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a1md their 


Presented to the 


by the 




















_ ^ o r*'^ 












C.V.O., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., 



The wonderful and brave story of ships and men here pre- 
sented needs but the briefest introduction. The deeds will 
forever remain one of the most glorious chapters in the chronicles 
of the sea. No excuse is offered for adding another volume to 
the literature of the war, for the subject is deserving of greater 
attention than has hitherto been possible. Lord Jellicoe once 
remarked that he did not think English people realized the 
wonderful work which these mystery ships had done in the war, 
and that in these vessels there had been displayed a spirit of 
endurance, discipline, and courage the like of which the world 
had never before seen. 

To few naval historians, I believe, has it ever been permitted 
to enjoy such complete opportunities for acquiring authentic 
information as is here presented. Unquestionably the greatest 
sphere of Q-ship operations was off" the south-west coast of 
Ireland, owing to the fact that the enemy submarines from the 
summer of 1915 to 1918 concentrated their attacks, with certain 
intervals, on the shipping in the western approaches to the 
British Isles. It was my good fortune during most of this 
period to be at sea patrolling off" that part of Ireland. These 
Q-ships were therefore familiar in their various disguises at sea 
or in harbour at Berehaven and Queenstown during their well- 
earned rest. Throughout this time I kept a diary, and noted 
down much that would otherwise have been forgotten. Many of 
the Q-ship officers were my personal friends, and I have enjoyed 
the hospitality of their ships. Valuable data, too, were obtained 
from officers of merchant ships who witnessed Q-ships engaging 

A considerable number of authentic manuscripts has been 
examined. By the courtesy of commanding officers I have 
been lent documents of priceless historical value, such as copies 
of official reports and private diaries, plans, sketches, photo- 
graphs, and so on. All this information has been further 




au<Tmented by personal conversation, correspondence, and 
valuable criticism. I submit, therefore, that with all these 
sources of information available, and with knowledge of much 
that has been published from the German side, it is possible 
to offer a monograph that is at once accurate in detail and 
coiTect in perspective. 

' With respect to single-ship actions,' wrote James in his 
monumental Naval History a hundred years ago, ' the official 
documents of them are also very imperfect. The letters are 
generally written an hour or so after the termination of the 
contest, and, of course, before the captain has well recovered 
from the fatigue and flurry it occasioned. Many captains are 
far more expert at the sword than at the pen, and would sooner 
fight an action than write the particulars of one.' That state- 
ment is true to-day of the Q-ships, and it would have been 
neffligent not to have availed oneself now of the calm and 
considered version of the chief actors in the great mystery- 
ship drama while they are still alive. Although the time for 
secrecy has long since passed, nothing has here been included of 
a confidential nature that can be of assistance to enemies past 
or potential. In one instance, for political reasons and in the 
interests of the service, I have made a certain omission. Those 
concerned will recognize this and understand : the rest will not 
notice it. 

Among those who have rendered me the greatest assistance 
in regard to information, advice, criticism, the loan of manu- 
scripts, illustrations, and in other ways, I desire especially to 
return thanks to Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, C.V.O., K.C.B., 
K.C.M.G., and Miss Voysey, C.B.E. ; to Captain F. H. Grenfell, 
D.S.O., R.N., Captain Gordon Campbell, V.C, D.S.O., R.N., 
Captain W. C. O'G. Cochrane, R.N., Commander Godfrey 
Herbert, D.S.O., R.N., Commander Stopford C. Douglas, R.N., 
and to Lieutenant G. H. P. Muhlhauser, R.N.R. 

March, 1922. 



I. The Hour and the Need - 
II. The Beginning of Success - 

III, Q-Ship Enterprise - 

IV. The Story of the ' Farnborough ' 
V. The ' Mystery ' Sailing Ships 

VI. The 'Mary B. Mitchell' - 
VII. More Sailing Ships - 
VIII. Submarines and Q-Ship Tactics 
IX. The Splendid ' Penshurst ' - 

X. Further Developments 
XI. The Good Ship ' Prize ' 
XII. Ships and Adventures 

XIII. More Sailing-Ship Fights - 

XIV. The Summit of Q-Ship Service 
XV. Life on Board a Q-Ship 

XVI. Q-Ships Everywhere 
XVII. Ships of all Sizes - 
XVIII. The Last Phase 




- .39 

- 67 

- 77 

- 92 

- 109 

- 132 

- 143 

- 158 

- 177 

- 192 

- 213 

- 228 

- 242 

- 255 




Q-Sailing-Ship Mitchell ... - Frontispiece 


An Early Q-Ship [Antwerp) - - - • - 6 
Q-Ship Anttverp ...... 6 

Commander S. C. Douglas, R.N. - - - - 8 

Commander G. Herbert, D.S.O., R.N. ... 8 

Q-Ship Antwerp - - - - - - 12 

Gun's Crew of Q-Ship Antiverj) - - - - 12 

Q-Ship Redbreast - - - - - - 22 

Q-Ship Baralong - - - - - - 22 

Q-Ship Baralong (Two Illustrations) - - - 28 

Officers of Q-Ship Farnhorough - - - - 42 

Captain Gordon Campbell and Lieutenant C. G. Bonner - 42 

Q-Sailing-Ship Mitchell - - - - - 68 

Q-Ship Penshiirst - - - - - -114 

Q-Ship Penshurst (Two Illustrations) - - - ll6 

Q-Ship Penshurst (Two Illustrations) - - - 120 

Captain and Officers of Q-Ship Penshurst - - - 124 

Men of Q-Ship Penshuist - - - - - 124 

Q-Ship Tulip - - - - - - 138 

Q-Ship Tamarisk - - - - - -138 

Q-Ship Cayidytuft - - - - - - 174 

Q-Ship Candytuft - - - - - - 176 

Q-Sailing-Ship Fresh Hope - - - - - 188 

Q-Ship Record Reign - - - - - 188 

Q-Sailing-Ship Rentoul - - - - - 190 

Q-Sailing-Ship Rentoul (Gun Crew) - - - - 190 

The Master of the Collier Farnhorough - - - 192 

Q-Ship Famborough - - - - - - 192 

Q-Ship Famborough - - - - - .194 

Q-Ship Famborough • - - - - .196 



S.S. Lodorer ------- 196 

Q-Ship Pargust - - - - - - 198 

Q-Ship Sarah Jones - - - - - - 198 

Q-Ship Dunraven ------ 200 

Bridge of Q-Ship Dunraven ----- 202 

After the Battle ------ 204 

Dunraven Doomed --.-_. 206 

Q-Ship Dunraven ------ 2O8 

Q-Ship Dunraven - - - - - -212 

Q-Ship Dunraveii - - - - - - 214 

Officers and Crew of the Q-Ship Dunraven - - - 2l6 

Q-Ship Barra?ica (Two Illustrations) - _ - 22O 

Q-Shij) Barranca (Two Illustrations) - - - 222 

Q-Ship Transformation ----- 234 

Q-Ship Barranca at Sea - - - - - 234 



1. Action of Baralong on August 19, 1915 - - 21 

2. Action of Baralong on September 24, 1915 - - 27 

3. Action of Margit on January 17, 191 6 - - 34 

4. Action of Werribee on February 9, 1916 - - 37 

5. Action of Famborough on April 15, 1916 - - 45 

6. Action of Helgoland on October 24, 1916 - - 63 

7. Action of Salvia on October 20, 19 1 6 - - 99 

8. Action of Saros on November 3, 1916 - - 103 

9. Action of Penshurst on November 29, I916 - - 110 

10. Action of Penshurst on November 30, 1916 - - 113 

11. Action of Penshurst on January 14, 1917 - - 118 

12. The Humorous Side of Q-Ship Warfare - - 127 

13. Famborough' s Farewell - - - - - 196 

14. Action of Pargust on June 7, 1917 - - - 201 

15. The Great Decision - _ - . . 2O8 

16. Letter from the First Lord of the Admiralty to Captain 

Gordon Campbell - - - - - 210 

' The necessitie of a Historie is, as of a Sworne 
Witnesse, to say the truth (in just discretion) 
and nothing but the truth.' 

Sariuel Purchas 271 ' Purchas His 
Pilgrimes^ 1625. 




All warfare is merely a contest. In any struggle 
you see the clashing of will and will, of force against 
force, of brain against brain. For the impersonal 
reader it is this contest which has a never-ending in- 
terest. A neutral is just as keenly entertained as the 
playgoer who sits watching the swaying fortunes of 
the hero in the struggle of the drama. No human 
being endowed with sympathetic interest, who him- 
self has had to contend with difficulties, fails to be 
moved by the success or disaster of the contestants in 
a struggle of which the spectator has no part or lot. 
If this were not so, neutral newspapers would cease to 
chronicle the wars of other nations, novels would 
cease to be published, and plays to be produced. 

Human nature, then, being what it is, man loves to 
watch his fellow-man fighting, struggling against men 
or fate or circumstances. The harder the fight and 
the nearer he is to losing, so much the more is the 
spectator thrilled. This instinct is developed most 
clearly in youth : hence juvenile fiction is one mass of 
struggles, adventures, and narrow escapes. But the 
instinct never dies, and how few of us can resist the 
temptation to read the exciting experiences of some 



entirely fictional character who rushes from one 
perilous situation to another ? Is there a human 
being who, going along the street, would not stop to 
watch a burglar being chased over roofs and chimney- 
pots by police ? If you have once become interested 
in a certain trial at the law courts, are you not eager 
to know whether the prisoner has been acquitted or 
convicted ? You despise him for his character, yet 
you are fascinated by his adventures, his struggles, 
his share in the particular drama, his fight against 
heavy odds ; and, contrary to your own inherent sense 
of justice, you almost hope he will be acquitted. In 
a word, then, we delight in having before us the 
adventures of our fellow humanity, partly for the 
exciting pleasure which these arouse in us, but partly 
also because they make us wonder what we should 
have done in a similar set of circumstances. In such 
vital, critical moments should we have played the 
hero, or should we have fallen somehow a little short? 
The following pages are an attempt to place before 
the reader a series of sea struggles which are unique, 
in that they had no precedent in naval history. If 
you consider all the major and minor sea fights from 
the earliest times to the present day ; if you think of 
fleet actions, and single-ship contests, you cannot 
surpass the golden story of the Q-ships. As long as 
people take any interest in the untamed sea, so will 
these exploits live, not rivalling but surpassing the 
greatest deeds of even the Elizabethan seamen. 
During the late war their exploits were, for very 
necessary reasons, withheld from the knowledge of the 
public. The need for secrecy has long since passed, 
and it is high time that a complete account of these 
so-called 'mystery ships' should be published, not 
merely for the perpetuation of their wonderful achieve- 


ments, but for the inspiration of the new race of sea- 
men whose duty it will be to hand on the great 
tradition of the sea. For, be it remembered, the 
Q-ship service was representative of every species of 
seamen. There were officers and men of the Royal 
Navy both active and retired, of the Royal Naval 
Reserve, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and men 
from the Royal Fleet Reserve. From warship, bar- 
racks, office, colony, pleasure yacht, fishing vessel, 
liner, sailing ship, tramp steamer, and elsewhere these 
seafarers went forth in unarmoured, slow-moving, 
lightly-armed vessels to perform the desperate ad- 
venture of acting as live-bait for a merciless enemy. 
It was an exploit calling for supreme bravery, com- 
bined with great fighting skill, sound seamanship, and 
a highly developed imagination. The successes which 
were attained were brought about by just this com- 
bination, so that the officers, especially the command- 
ing officers, and the men had to be hand-picked. The 
slow-reasoning, hesitating type of being was useless 
in a Q-ship ; equally out of place would have been 
the wild, hare-brained, dashing individual whose 
excess of gallantry would simply mean the loss of 
ship and lives. In the ideal Q-ship captain was found 
something of the virtues of the cleverest angler, the 
most patient stalker, the most enterprising big-game 
hunter, together with the attributes of a cool, unper- 
turbed seaman, the imagination of a sensational 
novelist, and the plain horse-sense of a hard business 
man. In two words, the necessary endowment was 
brains and bravery. It was easy enough to find at 
least one of these in hundreds of officers, but it was 
difficult to find among the many volunteers a plucky 
fighter with a brilliant intellect. It is, of course, one 
of the happy results of sea training that officer or man 


learns to think and act quickly without doing foolish 
things. The handling of a ship in bad weather, or in 
crowded channels, or a strong tideway, or in going 
alongside a quay or other ship — all this practice 
makes a sailor of the man, makes him do the one and 
only right thing at the right second. But it needed 
' something plus ' in the Q-ship service. For six 
months, for a year, she might have wandered up and 
down the Atlantic, all over the submarine zone, with 
never a sight of the enemy, and then, all of a sudden, 
a torpedo is seen rushing straight for the ship. The 
look-out man has reported it, and the officer of the 
watch has caused the man at the wheel to port his 
helm just in time to allow the torpedo to pass harm- 
lessly under the ship's counter. It was the never- 
ceasing vigilance and the cool appreciation of the 
situation which had saved the ship. 

But the incident is only beginning. The next 
stage is to lure the enemy on, to entice him, using 
your own ship as the bait. It may be one hour or 
one day later, perhaps at dusk, or when the moon 
gets up, or at dawn, but it is very probable that the 
submarine will invisibly follow you and attack at the 
most awkward time. The hours of suspense are 
trying ; watch has succeeded M^atch, yet nothing 
happens. The weather changes from good to bad ; 
it comes on thick, it clears up again, and the clouds 
cease to obhterate the sun. Then, apparently from 
nowhere, shells come whizzing by, and begin to hit. 
At last in the distance you see the low-lying enemy 
engaging you with both his guns, firing rapidly, and 
keeping discreetly out of your own guns' range. 
Already some of your men have been knocked out ; 
the ship has a couple of bad holes below the water- 
hne, and the sea is pouring through. To add to 


the anxiety a fire is reported in the forecastle, and 
the next shell has made rather a mess of the funnel. 
What are you going to do ? Are you going to keep 
on the bluff of pretending you are an innocent mer- 
chantman, or are you going to run up the White 
Ensign, let down the bulwarks, and fire your guns 
the moment the enemy comes within range and 
bearing ? How much longer is it possible to play 
with him in the hope that he will be fooled into 
doing just what you would like him to do ? If your 
ship is sinking, will she keep afloat just long enough 
to enable you to give the knock-out blow as the 
inquiring enemy comes alongside ? These are the 
crucial questions which have to be answered by that 
one man in command of the ship, who all the time 
finds his bridge being steadily smashed to pieces by 
the enemy's fire. 

' If you can keep your head when all about you 
Ai-e losing theirs and blaming it on you ; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too ; 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting . . .' 

then, one may definitely assert, you have in you 
much that goes to the making of an ideal Q-ship 
captain and a brave warrior. As such you might 
make a first-class commanding officer of a destroyer, 
a light cruiser, or even a battleship ; but something 
more is required. The enemy is artful ; you must 
be super-artful. You must be able to look across 
the tumbling sea into his mind behind the conning 
tower. What are his intentions ? What will be his 
next move ? Take in by a quick mental calculation 
the conditions of wind, wave, and sun. Pretend to 
run away from him, so that you get these just right. 
Put your ship head on to sea, so that the enemy 


with his sparse freeboard is being badly washed down 
and his guns' crews are thinking more of their wet 
feet and legs than of accurate shooting. Then, when 
you see him submerging, alter course quickly, reckon 
his probable position by the time you have steadied 
your ship on her course, and drop a series of depth- 
charges over his track. ' If you can fill the unfor- 
giving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance, 
run ' ; if you have acted with true seamanship and 
sound imagination, you will presently see bits of 
broken wreckage, the boil of water, quantities of oil, 
perhaps a couple of corpses ; and yours is the U-boat 
below, my son, and a D.S.O. ; and a thousand pounds 
in cash to be divided amongst the crew ; and you're a 
man, my son ! 

That, in a few phrases, is the kind of work, and 
shows the circumstances of the Q-ship in her busiest 
period. As we set forth her wonderful story, so 
gallant, so sad, so victorious, and yet so nerve-trying, 
we shall see all manner of types engaged in this great 
adventure ; but we cannot appreciate either the 
successes or losses until we have seen the birth and 
growth of the Q-ship idea. As this volume is the 
first effort to present the subject historically, we shall 
begin at the beginning by showing the causes which 
created the Q-ship. We shall see the consecutive 
stages of development and improvement, the evolu- 
tion of new methods, and, indeed we may at once say 
it, of a new type of super-seamen. How did it all 
begin ? 

Turn your attention back to the autumn of 1914. 
It was the sinking of the three Cressys on Septem- 
ber 22 by U 9 that taught Germany what a 
wonderful weapon of offence she had in the sub- 
marine. Five days later the first German submarine 

An Early Q-ship 
Q-ship "Antwerp" entering Harwich harbour. 

^^^^^^^^^^ IkT"'^^ 



I ^POhi'j'' in 

1 ^^^2^k1 k 

1 aHb '' "'^^^H 

Q-SHIP •'Ax'nvEP.p" 

Commander Herbert is on the port side of the bridge, the Mercantile Chief 
Officer and Quartermaster being in the foreground. 

To face p. 6 


penetrated the Dover Straits. This was U 18, who 
actually attacked the light cruiser Attentive. But it 
was not until October 20 that the first merchant ship, 
the British S.S. Gliti^a in the North Sea, was sunk by 
a submarine. Six days later the French S.S. Amir at 
Ganteaume, with Belgian refugees, was attacked by 
a German submarine. A month passed, and on 
November 23 the S.S. Malacliite was attacked by 
U 21, and after being on fire sank. Three days 
later the S.S. Primo was sunk also by U 21. It was 
thus perfectly clear that we had before us a most 
difficult submarine campaign to contend with, and 
that merchant ships would not be immune. On the 
last day of October H.M.S. Hermes was torpedoed 
off Calais, and on November 11 H.M.S. Niger had a 
similar fate near Deal. 

What was to be done ? The creation of what 
eventually became known as the Auxiliary Patrol, 
with its ever increasing force of armed yachts, 
trawlers, drifters, and motor craft ; the use of de- 
stroyers and our own submarines formed part of the 
scheme. But even at this early stage the Q-ship 
idea came into being, though not actually under 
that name. Officially she was a special-service ship, 
whose goings and comings were so mysterious that 
even among service men such craft were spoken of in 
great secrecy as mystery ships. This first mystery 
ship was the S.S. Vittoria, who was commissioned on 
November 29, 1914. She had all the appearance of 
an ordinary merchant ship, but she was armed, and 
went on patrol in the area where submarines had been 
reported. It was an entirely novel idea, and very few 
people knew anything about her. She never had any 
luck, and was paid off early in January, 1915, without 
ever having so much as sighted a submarine. The 


idea of decoy ships suggested itself to various naval 
officers during December, 1914, and their suggestions 
reached the Admiralty. The basic plan was for the 
Admiralty to take up a number of merchantmen and 
fishing craft, arm them with a few light quick-firing 
guns, and then send them forth to cruise in likely 
submarine areas, flying neutral colours. This was 
perfectly legitimate under International Law, provided 
that before opening fire on the enemy the neutral 
colours were lowered and the White Ensign was 
hoisted. Seeing that the enemy was determined to 
sink merchantmen, the obvious reply was to send 
against them armed merchantmen, properly com- 
missioned and armed, but outwardly resembling any- 
thing but a warship. Thus it came about that on 
January 27, 1915, the second decoy ship was com- 
missioned. This was the Great Eastern Railway S.S. 
Antwerp (originally called Vienna), which operated in 
the English Channel. She was placed under the com- 
mand of Lieut. -Commander Godfrey Herbert, R.N., 
one of the most experienced and able officers of our 
submarine service. The choice was a happy one, for 
a submarine officer would naturally in his stalking be 
able to realize at once the limitations and possibilities 
of his opponent. It was a most difficult task, for the 
U-boats at this time were still very shy, and only took 
on certainties. Neither in boats nor in personnel had 
Germany yet any to spare, and there were periods 
when the submarine campaign fluctuated. Thus, day 
after day, week after week, went by, and Antwerp 
never had any chance. The enemy was now beginning 
to operate further afield, and at the end of January, 
1915, for the first time, a U-boat made its way up the 
Irish Sea as far as off Liverpool, and then, on Feb- 
ruary 18, was inaugurated the German Submarine 



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Blockade. Shipping began to be sunk in various 
places, but the western end of the English Channel 
was now a favourite zone, especially in the neighbour- 
hood of the Scillies ; and it was with the hope of being 
taken for a merchant ship that Antive7y hsid come out 
from Falmouth and made her way westward. Thus, 
on March 12, we see her, about three o'clock in the 
afternoon, twelve miles north of the Bishop Rock 
Lighthouse. A submarine^ was sighted steering in 
a northerly direction for a steamer on the horizon. 
Here, at length, was a chance. Twenty minutes 
later, Antweiy came up to a sailing ship, and found 
she had on board the officers and crew of the Eller- 
man liner Andahman, which had been captured and 
scuttled 25 miles W.N.W. of the Bishop Rock. 
Antwerp continued her chase, and got within four 
miles of the Andalusian, still afloat, but then the 
submarine dived and was never sighted again. So 
Antweip was never able to sink a submarine, and she 
was paid off on April 5, 1915. 

During the summer of 1915 there was a small 
steamer called the Lyons, which one used to see in 
various naval ports, and under various disguises. Her 
primary object was to carry naval stores from one 
port to another, but it was always her hope to fall in 
with a submarine. I remember seeing her one day 
alongside Pembroke Naval Dockyard, painted a certain 
colour and with one funnel. A little later 1 saw her 
elsewhere with a different coat of paint and a dummy 
funnel added to her, so that she resembled an ocean- 
going tug. Lyons also was unable to entrap the 
enemy, and terminated her decoy-ship period at the 
beginning of November of the same year. 

1 This was U 29, which on March 18 was sunk in the North 
Sea by H.M.S. Dread?iought . 


Thus the war had gone on for several months, and 
an apparently sound idea had failed to produce a 
single good result. All kinds of shipping were being 
sunk, and yet the German submarines somehow could 
not be persuaded to attack these disguised ships. 
How was it ? Was there something in the disguise 
which gave the steamers away ? Was it purely hard 
luck { We cannot say definitely, but the fact remained, 
and it was rather disappointing. Of course the idea 
of disguise had been employed almost from the very 
first days of the war ; for, in August, 1914, Admiral 
Jellicoe had requested that the armed trawlers, though 
commissioned, should not be painted grey like other 
warships, but retain their fishing numbers and funnel 
markings just as in peace time. In the early summer 
of 1915, a number of disguised armed trawlers were 
also sent out to the Dogger Bank in the hope of 
catching an unsuspecting submarine, who might think 
they were fishing. The idea had been further de- 
veloped by a clever scheme involving the co-operation 
of a disguised armed trawler towing a submerged 
British submarine. This began in May ; on June 23 
it was the means of sinking U 40, and on July 20 it 
brought about the loss of U 23 ; but a few months 
later this idea was thought to be played out, and came 
to an end in October, 1915, though it was eventually 
revived in the following summer. 

Another variation of the decoy-ship principle at 
this time was that employed by Admiral Startin, who 
was in charge of the naval base at Granton. In view 
of enemy submarines having recently held up neutral 
merchant steamers in the North Sea, he disguised two 
big trawlers so as to resemble small neutral merchant 
ships. This was in July, 1915. So successfully was 
this done that one of them actually deceived British 


destroyers, who took her for a Danish cargo steamer. 
The next development was further to disguise them 
by adding a false deck cargo of timber, boats, and 
other details, so as to resemble closely a Norwegian 
cargo ship, with Norwegian colours hoisted at the 
mizzen, two derricks placed on the trawler's foremast, 
and Norwegian colours painted on prepared slips of 
canvas placed on each side of the hull amidships. 
Those who were at sea in those days will recollect 
that it was customary for neutral ships to have their 
national colours painted on each side of the hull in 
the hope that the enemy would not mistake the ships 
for Allies'. Thus cleverly disguised, the two Granton 
trawlers Quickly and Gimner went into the North 
Sea, armed with nothing more powerful than a 
12-pounder, Admiral Startin being himself aboard one 
of the ships. A large submarine was actually sighted 
on July 20, and at 1,000 yards the enemy began the 
action. Quickly thereupon lowered her Norwegian 
flag, ran up the White Ensign, removed the painted 
canvas, replied with her 12-pounder, and then with 
her 6-pounder. A fine, lucky shot was seen to strike 
the submarine, and much smoke was seen to issue. 
Although the enemy made off and was not sunk, yet 
it showed that it was possible to fool German sub- 
marines by this disguise. The decoy-ship idea was 
not merely sound in principle, but it was practicable 
and was capable of being used as a valuable offen- 
sive weapon. IMost of a year had passed since the 
beginning of war, and there were no decoy ship 
results to show except those which had been obtained 
by British submarines working in conjunction with 
disguised trawlers. However, just as the seaman 
often finds the dawn preceded by a calm and followed 
by a breeze, so it was to be with the decoy ships. 


The dawn of a new period was about to take place, 
and this was followed by such a wind of events that if 
anyone had dared to doubt the value of this specialized 
naval warfare it was not long before such hesitation 
vanished. Disguised trawlers had in the meantime 
been further successful, but there were obviously 
greater possibilities for the disguised merchant ship, 
the collier and tramp types especially. But this all 
depended on three things : First, the right type of 
ship had to be selected very carefully and with regard 
to the trade route on which she would normally in 
the present conditions be likely to be found. For 
instance, it would have been utterly foolish to have 
sent a P. and O. liner to cruise up and down the 
waters of the Irish Channel or an Atlantic liner up 
and down the North Sea. Secondly, having once 
selected the right ship, much depended on the dock- 
yard authorities responsible for seeing that she was 
fitted out adequately as to her fighting capabilities, 
yet externally never losing any of her essential 
mercantile appearance. This meant much clever 
designing, much engineering and constructive skill, 
and absolute secrecy. Thirdly, the right type of 
keen, subtle, patient, tough officer had to be found, 
full of initiative, full of resource, with a live, eager 
crew. Slackers, 'grousers,' and 'King's-hard-bargains' 
were useless. 

Q-SHip " Antwerp'' 
Showing the collapsible dummy life-raft which concealed the two l-2-i)ouuders. 

Gun's Crew of Q ship "Antwerp" 

Gun's crew of " Antwerp " ready to fire on a submarine. The sides of the 
dummy life-raft have been collapsed to allow gnn to come into action. 

To face p. 12 



We turn now to the northern mists of the Orkneys, 
where the comings and goings of the Grand Fleet 
were wrapped in mystery from the eyes of the world. 
In order to keep the fleet in stores — coal, oil, gear, 
and hundreds of other requisite items — small colliers 
and tramp steamers brought their cargoes northward 
to Scapa Flow. In order to avoid the North Sea 
submarines, these coal and store ships used the west- 
coast passage as much as possible. Now, for that 
reason, and also because German submarines were 
already proceeding in earnest, via the north-west of 
Scotland, to the south-west Irish coast, ever since the 
successful sinking of the Lusitania, it was sound 
strategy on our part to send a collier to operate off 
the north-western Scottish coast. That is to say, 
these looked the kinds of ships a suspecting U-boat 
officer would expect to meet in that particular 

Under the direction of Admiral Sir Stanley Col- 
ville, a handful of these little ships was, during the 
summer of 1915, being fitted out for decoy work. 
One of these was the collier S.S. Prince Charles^ a 
little vessel of only 373 tons. In peace-time she was 
commanded by her master, Mr. F. N. Maxwell, and 
manned by five deckhands, two engineers, and two 
firemen. These men all volunteered for what was 



known to be a hazardous job, and were accepted. In 
command was placed Lieutenant Mark Wardlaw, 
R.N., and with him went Lieutenant J. G. Spencer, 
R.N.R., and nine active-service ratings to man the 
guns and use the rifles. She carried the weakest 
of armament — only a 3-pounder and a 6-pound er, 
with rifles forward and aft. Having completed her 
fitting out with great secrecy, the Prince Charles left 
Longhope in the evening of July 21 with orders to 
cruise on routes where submarines had recently been 
seen. Proceeding to the westward at her slow gait, 
she saw very few vessels until July 24. It was just 
6.20 p.m. when, about ten miles W.N.W. of North 
Rona Island, she sighted a three-masted vessel with 
one funnel, apparently stopped. A quarter of an 
hour later she observed a submarine lying close to the 
steamer. Here was the steel fish Prince Charles was 
hoping to bait. 

Pretending not to see the submarine, and keeping 
on her course like a real collier. Lieutenant Wardlaw's 
ship jogged quietly along, but he was closing up his 
gun's crews behind their screens and the mercantile 
crew were standing by ready to hoist out the ship's 
boats when required. The German now started up 
his oil-engines and came on at full speed towards the 
Prince Charles. It had just gone seven o'clock and 
the submarine was 3 miles off. The collier had 
hoisted her colours and the enemy was about five 
points on the bow when a German shell came whizz- 
ing across. This fell 1,000 yards over. Lieutenant 
Wardlaw now stopped his engines, put his ship head 
on to the Atlantic swell, blew three blasts, and then 
ordered the crew to get the boats out, in order to 
simulate the movements of an ordinary merchant ship 
in the presence of an attacking submarine. 


In the meantime the enemy was approaching 
rapidly and fired a second shot, which fell between 
the funnel and the foremast, but landed 50 yards 
over. When the range was down to 600 yards 
the enemy turned her broadside on to the collier and 
continued firing ; and this was now the time for the 
Q-ship's captain to make the big decision. Should 
he maintain his pretence and continue to receive 
punishment, with the possibility of losing ship and 
lives in the hope that the submarine would come 
nearer ? Or should he reveal his identity and risk 
everything on the chance of winning all ? This was 
always the critical moment when the Q-ship captain 
held in his judgment the whole fate of the fight, of 
the ship, and his men. 

Lieutenant Wardlaw, seeing that the enemy could 
not be enticed to come any nearer, took the second 
alternative, and opened fire with his port guns. The 
effect of this on the German was remarkable and 
instantaneous ; for her gun's crew at once deserted 
the gun and darted down into the conning-tower. 
But whilst they were so doing, one of Prince 
Charles's shells struck the submarine 20 feet abaft the 
conning-tower. The enemy then came round and 
showed her opposite broadside, having attempted to 
dive. She now began to rise again as the collier 
closed to 300 yards, and frequent hits were being 
scored by the British guns. By this time the surprised 
Germans had had more than enough, and were 
observed to be coming out of the conning-tower, whilst 
the submarine was settling down by the stern. Still 
the British fire continued, and when the submarine's 
bows were a long way out of the water, she took 
a sudden plunge and disappeared. A large number of 
men were then seen swimming about, and the Prince 


Charles at once made every effort to pick them up, 
fifteen officers and men being thus saved out of 

So ended the career of U 36. She had left Heligo- 
land on July 19 for a cruise of several weeks via the 
North Sea, and, up till the day of meeting with 
Prince Charles, had had a most successful time ; for 
she had sunk eight trawlers and one steamer, and 
had stopped the Danish S.S. Louise when the Prince 
Charles came up. It was not until the submarine 
closed the latter that U 36 saw the Englishmen 
clearing away some tarpaulins on deck, and the next 
moment the Germans were under fire, and the 
captain gave orders to dive. By this time the 
submarine had been hit several times, and as she 
could not be saved, she was brought to the surface 
by blowing out her tanks. The crew then took to 
the sea, and the engineer officer opened the valves to 
sink her, and was the last to leave. Inside, the 
submarine was wrecked by Prince Charles's shells and 
three men were killed, the accurate and rapid fire having 
immensely impressed the Germans. Thus the first 
Q-ship engagement had been everything that could be 
desired, and in spite of the submarine being armed 
with a 14-pounder and carrying seven torpedoes, the 
U-boat had been beaten in a fair fight. Lieutenant 
Mark Wardlaw received a D.S.O., two of the crew 
the D.S.M., and the sum of £1,000 was awarded to 
be divided among the mercantile crew. 

Another of the ships fitted out under similar 
auspices was the Vala, who commissioned on August 7, 
1915. She was of 609 tons, and could steam at 
nothing better than 8 knots. In March of the 
following year she was transferred from Scapa to 
Pembroke, and her career was long and eventful. 


In April of 1917 she was in action with a submarine, 
and she beheved that one shell hit the enemy, but 
the latter then submerged. One day in the middle 
of August Fala left Milford Haven to cruise between 
the Fastnet and the Scillies, and was last heard of in 
the early hours of the following day. She was due 
to arrive at Queenstown, but, as she did not return, the 
Q-ship Heather was ordered to search for her in the 
Bay of Biscay. For a whole week there had been a 
series of gales, and it was thought that the little 
steamer had foundered in the bad weather, but on 
September 7 the German Government wireless 
announced that ' the U-boat trap, the former English 
steamer Fala,' had been sunk by a U-boat. 

Besides the Fa/a and Prince Charles, three other 
Q-ships were fitted out in the north. These were 
the Gle7i Ida, of 786 tons ; the Duncombe, 830 tons ; 
and the Fenshurst, 740 tons, and they all performed 
excellent work. But before we go any further we 
have to consider still another novelty in naval warfare, 
or rather a strange revival. Who would have thought 
that the sailing-ship would, in these days of steam, 
steel, and motor, come back in the service as a man- 
of-war ? At first it seems almost ludicrous to send 
sail-driven craft to fight against steel, mechanically 
propelled vessels. But, as we have seen, this sub- 
marine warfare was not so much a matter of force 
as of cleverness. It was the enemy's unimaginative 
policy which brought about this reintroduction of 
sail into our Navy, and this is how it all happened. 

During the summer of 191.5 German submarines 
in the North Sea had either attacked or destroyed a 
number of neutral schooners which used to come 
across with cargoes of pit-props. One used to see 
these fine little ships by the dozen arriving in the 


Forth, for the neutral was getting an excellent return 
for his trading. It annoyed the enemy that this 
timber should be able to enter a British port, and so 
the submarines endeavoured to terrorize the neutral 
by burning or sinking the ships on voyage. It was 
therefore decided to take up the 179-ton schooner 
Thirza, which was lying in the Tyne. Her purchase 
had to be carried out with great secrecy, lest the 
enemy should be able to recognize her at sea. She 
was an old vessel, having been built as far back as 
1865 at Prince Edward Island, but registered at 
Whitstable. She changed her name to Ready, and 
began her Q-ship service at the end of August, 1915, 
when soon after midnight she sailed down the Forth. 
Armed with a couple of 12-pounders, having also 
a motor, carrying a small deck cargo of pit-props, and 
suitably disguised to resemble a neutral, this schooner, 
manned by a hardy volunteer crew, used to pretend 
she was coming across the North Sea, though at first 
she never went many miles away from the land. 
Under the various aliases of Thirza, Ready, Probus, 
Eliocir, and Q 30, this old ship did splendid work, 
w^hich did not end until Armistice. We shall have 
occasion to refer to her again. 

Who can avoid a feeling of intense admiration for 
the men who, year after year, were willing and eager 
to roll about the sea in a small sailing ship looking 
for the enemy, well knowing that the enemy had all 
the advantage of speed, handiness, and armament ? 
Even the motor was not powerful, and would give her 
not much more than steerage way in a calm. The 
submarine could always creep up submerged, using 
his periscope but now and then : the schooner, how- 
ever, was a conspicuous target all the time, and her 
masts and sails advertised her presence from the 


horizon. These Q-ship saihng men deserve much for 
what they voluntarily endured. Quite apart from the 
bad weather, the uncomfortable quarters on board, 
the constant trimming of sheets and alteration of 
course off an unlit coast, there was always the possi- 
bility that some U-boat's crew would, after sinking 
the schooner, cut the throats of these British seamen. 
The Q-ship crews knew this, and on certain occasions 
when U-boat prisoners were taken by our ships the 
Germans did not conceal this fact. Life in these 
sailing craft was something quite different from that 
in a battleship with its wardroom, its cheery society, 
and a comfortable cabin to turn into. In the latter, 
with powerful turbines and all the latest navigational 
instruments, bad weather meant little inconvenience. 
After all it is the human element which is the decid- 
ing factor, and the Q-ship service certainly wore out 
officers and men at a great pace. It is indeed difficult 
to imagine any kind of seafaring more exacting both 
physically and nervously. 

But the Navy pressed into its use also sailing 
smacks, and sent them out to sea. This began at 
Lowestoft in August, 1915. In that neighbourhood 
submarines had been doing a great deal of damage to 
the local fishing ketches, so it was decided to com- 
mission four of these smacks, arm them, strengthen 
their fishing crew with a few active service ratings for 
working the gun, and let the craft resume their 
fishing among the other smacks. With any luck at 
all a German submarine should come along, and then 
would follow the surprise. The original fishermen 
crews w^ere only too delighted to have an opportunity 
of getting their own back, and these excellent fellows 
certainly were afforded some good sport. So well 
did the idea work that within a very few days the 


smack G. and E. engaged one submarine, and the 
Inverbjon sank UB 4. During the same month 
the smack Pet fought a submarine, and on Septem- 
ber 7 InvcrUjon had a fight with another. 

And still the Admiralty were not over optimistic 
as to the capabilities of ' the decoy ship, and had 
to be convinced of the real worth of this novel idea. 
However, an incident happened on August 19 which 
was so successful and so significant that it entirely 
changed the official mind, and all kinds of craft were 
suggested as suitable decoys. Some thought that oil- 
tankers would have made ideal bait : so they would, 
but such ships were few in number and too valuable. 
Others suggested yachts, and actually these were used 
for intelligence work in the Bay of Biscay. Many 
other schemes, too, were brought forward, but they 
were not always practicable, or had to be discarded for 
particular reasons. 

In March, 1915, the Admiralty had taken up the 
S.S. Bar along, a typical 'three-island' tramp, as a 
decoy. For nearly six months she had been cruising 
about and had already steamed 12,000 miles, but 
during the afternoon of August 19 she was at last to 
have her chance. This was an historic day in the 
submarine campaign, for in that area between the 
south-west coast of Ireland and the western end of 
the English Channel eight British steamers were sunk, 
including the 15,801 -ton White Star liner Ai^ahic. 
It is quite certain that there was more than one sub- 
marine operating, and they had reaped a good harvest 
on the 17th. In the hope of falling in with one of 
these U-boats, the Baralong found herself in 
Lat. 50.22 N., Long. 8.7 W. (that is, about a hundred 
miles south of Queenstown), steering on an easterly 
course. She was disguised as a United States cargo 

mL^Ai shelling 'Nicosian ' 



,- '\-'^^BARALONG' 

ftnncfats/M range 600 yds. 


Baraiong sighted h" 
s/M 7 miles off. /* 

s/m sank 

% ^^^ NICOSIAN s 

•^ ^ Boats 

^^^- 1- — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of ' Eara- 


indicate Simultaneous Positions of Decuy and Submarine. 


ship with American colours painted on boards on her 
sides. These boards were made so that they could 
be hauled in, and the ensign staff would fall away as 
soon as the ship should go into action with the White 
Ensign hoisted. At three in the afternoon Baralon^ 
sighted a steamer manoeuvring rather strangely, and 
almost immediately picked up a wireless 'S.O.S.' 
sio-nal from her. Baralong therefore now altered 
course towards her, and the two ships were soon 
steering so that they would presently meet. Then a 
submarine was sighted about seven miles off heading 
towards the steamer, whom she was shelling. By this 
time the crew of the steamer, which was the Leyland 
liner Nicosian, were rowing about in the ship's 
boats, and towards these the Baralong was seen to be 
approaching, but the submarine U 27, which had a 
22-pounder forward of the high conning-tower, and a 
similar gun aft, steered so as to come along Nicosians 
port side and towards the latter's boats, apparently to 
prevent Baralong rescuing the men. One who was 
present told me the full story, and I made notes and a 
sketch at the time. This is what happened : 

As soon as the submarine was blanketed by 
Nicosian, the Baralong, who was now roughly 
parallel with the other two craft, struck her American 
colours, hoisted the White Ensign, and trained her 
guns ready for the moment when the submarine 
should show herself ahead of Nicosiaris bows. In 
a few seconds U 27 came along, and had the greatest 
of all surprises. The range was only 600 yards, and 
12 -pounder shells, accompanied by rifle fire, came 
hurtling along, penetrating the craft on the water- 
line below the conning-tower before the enemy could 
reply. The conning-tower went up in the air, panic- 
stricken Germans jumped into the sea, the submarine 

Q-SHiP "Baralong" 

Heroine of two famous victories over submarines. Photofiraph taken in ]\Ialta 
harbour after the ship had been transferred to the Mediterranean. 

Q-SHip " Kedbreast " 

This vessel was commissioned as a (^-ship at the end of Maicli, J',)16, but six 
months later had concluded her service in this capacity. 

To fate p. 22 


heeled over, and in about another minute sank for 
good and all. The whole incident had happened so 
quickly that Nicosians people were as surprised as 
they were amused. The whole of Bar along' s tactics 
had been so simple yet so clever and effective ; de- 
liverance from the enemy had followed the sudden 
attack so dramatically, that it was not easy to realize 
quite all that had happened. Nicosiaii had been 
holed by the German shells, but Baralong took her 
in tow and headed for Avonmouth. She was down 
by the head and the tow-rope parted during the night, 
but she managed to get to port all right. 

The sinking of this U 27 was a most useful piece 
of work, for her captain, Lieut.-Commander Wegener, 
was one of Germany's best submarine commanders ; 
she had left Germany a fortnight before. This in- 
cident, with many of its details, reached Germany 
via the U.S.A.; for Nicosian was carrying a cargo 
of mules from across the Atlantic to be used by our 
army, and some of the muleteers were American 
citizens. On their arrival back home the news came 
out, and was published in the newspapers, causing 
considerable sensation. The German nation was 
furious and made some bitter accusations, forgetting 
all the time that on this very day they had fired on 
and killed fourteen of the crew of the British sub- 
marine E 13, which had grounded on the Danish 
island of Saltholm. All the officers, with one excep- 
tion, and most of the crew of Baralong were of the 
Royal Naval Reserve. A number of decorations was 
made and the sum of £1,000 was awarded. 

This great success in the midst of a terrible tale 
of shipping losses finally convinced the authorities 
of the value of the Q-ship. There was a great 
shortage of tonnage at this time, for ships were being 


required for carrying mules and munitions from 
America, munitions to Russia, and every kind of 
stores across to our armies. However, it was decided 
to take up some more steamers as decoys and fit them 
out in a similar manner. Thus the two tramp steamers 
Zijlpha (2,917 tons) and the Lodorer (3,207 tons) were 
assigned to Queenstown. The former, after doing 
excellent work, was sunk on June 15, 1917 ; the 
latter, commanded by the officer who eventually 
became Captain Gordon Campbell, V.C., D.S.O., 
made history. Under the aliases of Farnhorough 
and Q 5 she became the most famous of all the decoy 
ships. Tramp steamer though she may be, she has a 
career which, for adventurous fights, honourable 
wounds, and imperishable glory cannot be approached 
by any ship in the world, with the solitary exception, 
perhaps, of the Vindictive, for, in spite of everything, 
Lodorer was able at the end of the war to resume 
her work in the Merchant Service. In another place 
we shall soon see her exploits as a warship. 

In addition to these two a few small coasting 
steamers were taken up and a couple of transports, 
and the work of selecting officers of dash and enter- 
prise had to be undertaken with great secrecy and 
discretion. Unquestionably the most suitable type 
of Q-ship was the tramp, and the worst was the cross- 
Channel railway steamer. The first was slow, but 
could keep at sea a long time without coaling ; the 
latter was fast, but wasteful of coal and had limited 
bunker space. Of these railway steamers we have 
already mentioned the G.E.R. Co.'s S.S. Vienna 
(alias Antnoevp). Another decoy ship was the L. & 
S.W.R. Co.'s S.S. Princess Ena, which was built to 
run between the Channel Islands and Southampton. 
She had been commissioned in May, 1915, armed 


with three 12-pounders, and could steam at 15 knots, 
but she ceased her decoy work in the following August. 
The Lyons, already referred to, was really a salvage 
steamer, but much resembled a tug, especially when 
she hoisted her dummy funnel. She was of 537 tons, 
could steam at 11 knots, and was armed with four 
12-pounders. But it was the 'three-island' tramp 
type of the Bar along breed, which was so ordinary 
and seen at any time in any sea, that made the ideal 
Q-ship. She was of 4,192 tons, built in 1901, speed 
10 knots, armed with three 12-pounders, and fitted 
with a single wireless aerial which could excite no 
suspicion. So skilfully was the armament of these 
ships concealed that they frequently lay in harbour 
close to foreign ships without revealing their true 
nature. 1 have myself been all over such a ship, 
commanded by one of the greatest Q-ship officers, 
and entirely failed to find w^here he mounted his guns, 
and yet they were on board ready for immediate use. 
How much more likely would the German submarine, 
lying lower down to the water, be deceived ! As 
time went on and these much-feared ' trap-ships ' 
were scrutinized more closely, several minor but fatal 
characteristics had to be remembered ; for instance, 
the crew sometimes would be too smart or the signal- 
man was too good with his semaphore. But these 
and similar points were rectified as soon as they were 



Within five weeks of her victorious fight Baralong 
had done it again. After the war it was definitely- 
announced in the pubUc Press that U 27 had been 
sunk by H.M.S. Wyandra on August 19. Under this 
name the ship's crew were awarded the sum of £185 
as prize bounty, and in the same court Wyandra, her 
commanding officer this time being Lieut. -Commander 
A. Wilmot-Smith, R.N., was awarded £170 prize 
bounty for sinking U 41 on September 24, 1915. It was 
an open secret that Baralong and Wyandra were one 
and the same ship, so we may as well get this matter 
quite clear. Already we have seen the manner in 
which this decoy sank U 27, and we shall now be 
able to note very similar tactics in almost the same 
locality attaining a like result under her new captain. 
U 41 had left Wilhelmshaven on September 12, 
this being her fourth trip. She was under the com- 
mand of Lieut. -Commander Hansen, and on the 23rd 
had sunk three British steamers, each of about 4,000 
tons, in a position roughly eighty miles south-east of 
the Fastnet. The first of these ships was the Anglo- 
Columbian, which was sunk at 9.45 a.m., followed by 
the Chancellor at 3 p.m., and the Hesione about four 
hours later. The news of the first sinking reached 
Baralong (henceforth officially known as Wyandra) 
in Falmouth, so this decoy put to sea, and after 



Opened fire E,?'" ^/ 
(Ship stopped)\ rf ■ 

s/m shelling ship 

D7 Helm put hard 

lowering boat 

/stopped^ ordered to 
^ ^end papers to s/m 

gy^>f hoisted signal 
to stop 

position when^Afdimf^A 

I Position of 'BARALONG 
^ on sighting s/M. 

Fig. 2. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of ' Bara- 

LONG ' when she SANK U 41 ON SEPTEMBER 24, 1915. ThE LETTERS 

indicate Simultaneous Positions of Decoy and Submarine. 


rounding the Lizard steered a course that would, 
with luck, intercept the submarine if she were operat- 
ing towards Ushant, as seemed probable. So the 
night passed. About 9 o'clock next morning the 
British S.S. Ui'bino (6,651 tons), of the Wilson Line, 
was attacked by this U 41 in a position roughly 
sixty-seven miles S.W. by W. of the Bishop rock. 
At 9.45 a.m. up came the Bar along, and sighted the 
Urbino about eight miles ahead, on fire, stopped, 
with a heavy list, and blowing off steam. It was a 
fine, clear morning ; a steady course was maintained, 
and the Q-ship made ready for action. Already the 
Urbino's crew had been compelled to take to their 
boats, and the submarine, at a range of 200 yards, 
had put five shells into her, 

Baralong now sighted the submarine's conning- 
tower, and when about five miles away the submarine 
dived, so Baralong altered course to the southward, 
so as to compel the enemy, if she meant to attack, to 
rise to the surface and use her oil-engines. This ruse 
succeeded, for presently U 41 came to the surface 
and proceeded at full speed to head the Englishman 
off. Baralong now hoisted United States colours, 
M'hereupon the German hoisted ' Stop instantly !' 
The former obeyed, but by using the engines now 
and again cleverly manoeuvred so as to close the 
range. The next order from the enemy was for the 
EngUshman to send his papers aboard the submarine, 
the two craft being now about two and a half miles 
apart. Baralong answered the signal, steamed 
slowly ahead, altering very gradually towards the 
enemy, and pretended to be hoisting out a boat on 
the side visible to the submarine. On board the 
latter the forward gun was already manned, Ober- 
Leutnant Crompton being on deck in charge of the 

Q-SHip " Baralong " 
Showiug guu on port side of the poop and disguised crew. 

Q-SHIP "Baralong" 
Showing disguised marines and method of concealing the gun. 

To face p. 28 


firing. But Hansen had already been outmanoeuvred 
by Wilmot-Smith, just as in the olden days the 
sailing man-of-war sought to win the weather-gage. 
For, having got the submarine 2 points on the 
starboard bow, Baralong so steered as to keep her in 
that position, and the two approached until the range 
was down to 700 yards. 

All this time, though every man in BaraloJig was 
at his station, there was not a movement that in any 
way caused the enemy to suspect. The latter was 
concerned rather with the details of making quite 
sure she was a neutral. It was then that Baralong 
starboarded her helm so that it might appear as if she 
were just swinging in order to give the ship's boat a 
lee while being lowered, a perfectly natural and sea- 
manlike piece of tactics. But when she had swung 
sufficiently for the starboard and stern guns to bear, 
down came the disguise, up went the fluttering White 
Ensign, and a heavy fire at only 500 yards came 
pouring forth, accompanied by rifle fire from the 
marines in the well- deck aft. The enemy was taken 
so completely by surprise that he got off only one 
round, and this was a long way out. So smartly had 
Baralongs men begun the attack that the second 
round scored a direct hit at the base of the conning- 
tower, and several other shells got home with deadly 
precision. The Germans on deck became panic- 
stricken, left their guns, and made for the conning- 
tower hatch, but whilst they were doing this another 
direct hit struck the conning-tower, blowing Hansen 
and six men to pieces. After several more hits, U 41 
Hsted to port with a heavy inclination and dived. 
This submersion was useless, as she was leaking very 
badly, and the main bilge-pump ceased to function. 
Down she dropped to a terrible depth, the diving 


tanks were blown by the compressed air, and with a 
great sense of rehef the Germans who were still alive 
found their craft coming to the surface. First came 
the bows, and then the top of the conning- tower 
showed above water, a large volume of smoke and 
steam escaping, and then she disappeared for the 
last time very rapidly, stern first, Ober-Leutnant 
Crompton and the helmsman escaping through an 
open hatchway. 

After she had sunk finally a large burst of air and 
oil-fuel rose to the surface, the submarine's bulkheads 
having apparently burst owing to the pressure due 
to the deep water, which here was 75 fathoms. 
Only Crompton and the helmsman were saved, the 
former having been badly wounded whilst entering 
the conning-tower. All the others, consisting of five 
officers and twenty-five men, were lost. In the mean- 
time Urbino had sunk, too, from her shell-holes, and 
Baralong picked the whole crew up from their boats 
to the number of forty-two officers and men, her 
master. Captain Allanson Hick, stating that his ship 
was on her way from New York to Hull. Baralong, 
conscious of having obtained another brilliant and 
brave victory, now proceeded with her survivors to 
Falmouth, where she arrived in the early hours of 
the following morning. Lieut. -Commander Wilmot- 
Smith was awarded the D.S.O., and Temporary 
Engineer J. M. Dowie, R.N.R., received a D.S.C., a 
well-deserved decoration ; for much depended on 
the engineers in these ships, and they had much to 
suffisr. Two of the crew received a D.S.M. each, and 
the sum of £1,000 was also awarded, this being 
additional to the bounty subsequently awarded in the 
Prize Court. 

At this stage in the world's history there is no in- 


tention of exulting in the discomfiture and pain of 
the enemy. Day after day during this period the 
writer used to see the sad sight of our survivors with- 
out ship or belongings other than the clothes on their 
backs. It is difficult altogether to forget these inci- 
dents or the unchivalrous behaviour of the enemy. 
Without wishing to be vindictive, it is well to place 
on record that the nineteen German sailors on the 
deck of U 41 all jeered at Captain Hick in his dis- 
tress, and yet although a callous enemy had been 
sunk in a fair fight, this second Baralong incident 
aroused in Germany a wave of horrified indignation 
akin to the decoy's former exploit. The German 
Press referred to the sinking of U 41 as a murderous 
act, but if this were so there were to be plenty more 
to follow. Happily, at last, we had found a real, 
effective means of grappling with the submarine 
problem. Against us were contending the finest 
brains of the German Navy, and these determined 
officers were not over anxious to save life, as we knew 
from their behaviour at the sinking of Falaba and 
Lusitania. Such craft as U 41, over 200 feet long, 
with a maximum surface speed of 14 knots, but 
an endurance of 5,500 miles at 10 knots, armed with 
a couple of guns and eight torpedoes, w^ere formidable 
foes, and any clever stratagem that could be used 
against them, without infringing International Law, 
was surely entirely justified. Thus, very wisely, four 
colliers were fitted out that same autumn as Q- ships, 
these being the Thornhill (alias Weriibee, WelUiobiie, 
and WoiigaiieUa) ; the Remembrance (alias Lam- 
meroo) ; Bradford City (alias Saros) ; and the 
Penhallow (alias Century). These, together with 
Baralong, were sent to operate in the Mediterranean, 
for here the submarine campaign became very 


serious just at the time when it temporarily died 
down in North European waters. Diplomatic rela- 
tions between Germany and the United States, con- 
sequent on the sinking of the lAtsitania and then 
Arabic, were becoming strained, so that Germany had 
to accept the American demands for the limitation 
of submarine activity. The result was that from 
September 24, 1915, up to December 20, 1915, no 
ships were sunk by German submarines in North 
European waters, though the Mediterranean had a 
different story to tell. At the end of December a 
short, sharp submarine campaign was carried out off 
Ireland by U-boats, and then there was quiet again 
until Germany began her extended submarine cam- 
paign on March 1, 1916. This in turn lasted only to 
May 8, and was not resumed until July 5, 1916. 

It is as well to bear these periods in mind, for 
otherwise we cannot appreciate the dull, monotonous 
weeks and months of cruising spent by the Q- ships 
when they saw no submarine, received nothing but 
vague, inaccurate reports, and had to keep their crews 
from getting disappointed or eventually wondering 
whether they were really doing any good in this 
particular service. But as the winter passed and the 
U-boats displayed their usual spring activity, the 
Q-ships had their opportunities again. Before we 
come to see these, let us take a glance at the work 
which they were performing during the winter in the 
Mediterranean, where the enemy sought to cut our 
lines of communication to the Dardanelles. 

In December, 1915, the steamship 3Iargit had 
been fitted out as a decoy, and on January 17, 1916, 
in Lat. 35.34 N., Long. 17.38 E., she was steering 
west for Malta, when she received S.O.S. signals on 
her wireless. The time was 9.30 a.m., and presentlj^ 


shots were seen falling close to the S.S. Baron Napier, 
who was about five miles to the southward. The 
captain of the Mar^it was Lieut.-Commander G. L. 
Hodson, R.N., who then hoisted the Dutch ensign 
and altered course towards the Baroii Napier. The 
latter kept making signals that she was being shelled 
and that the submarine was approaching ; but when 
Margit got within a couple of miles the submarine 
transferred the shelling to her. Margifs captain 
conned his ship, lying prone on the bridge and peering 
through the chinks in the bridge screen. In order to 
lure the enemy on he pretended to abandon ship, 
hoisted the international signal ' I am stopped,' and 
sent away the ship's lifeboat with Sub-Lieutenant 
McClure, R.N.R., in charge. The ship now had 
every appearance of having been abandoned, but in 
addition to the captain lying unseen on the bridge, 
the guns' crews, under Lieutenant Tweedie, R.N.R., 
and a sub-lieutenant, were remaining hidden at 
their stations. Riflemen were similarly placed on 
the foredeck and aft. 

After the ' panic party ' had been sent away in 
the boat the enemy seemed fairly satisfied, ceased 
shelling, dived, and then reappeared a quarter of an 
hour later 800 yards away, with a couple of feet of 
his periscope showing. He was now going to make 
quite sure this was no trap, so, still submerged, he 
came within 50 yards of Margifs port side and 
then right round the ship, scrutinizing her carefully. 
At length, being apparently quite convinced that all 
was well, he steered for Margifs boat about a 
thousand yards away and came to the surface. Three 
men then appeared on the submarine's deck, the 
German ensign was hoisted, and one of them waved 
Majgit's boat to come alongside. This was as far as 



Lieut. -Commander Hodson deemed it advisable to 
let matters go. Giving the orders to down screens, 
open fire, and hoist the White Ensign, the enemy 
now came under attack. One shot seemed to hit 
abaft the conning -tower, and the submarine sub- 
merged, so fire was ceased and Mar git proceeded to 
pick up her boat. The davit-falls had only just 
been hooked on when the submarine showed her 
conning-tower 70 yards off, apparently in difficulties. 
The Q-ship therefore opened fire once more, but 

, s/M rose 

^^, opened fire on ■Vm 

.ji/' J, "^^ s/m disappeared 

-SW. Y •-, apparentluaamagea. 

A'J> J -<- -\ -* ^ ^ 

^■''<^ i/y^ J^'^^/m approached ship shading 

y ' K^y' ^■^'^ all of periscope Stofi of connJfig tower 

Fig. 3. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of ' Margit ' 
IN HER Engagement with Submarine on January 17, 1916. 

the enemy again submerged. Unfortunately the 
submarine had not been sunk, although no effort had 
been neglected. From 9.30 a.m. to about midday 
officers and crew had been compelled to keep in 
cramped, tiring attitudes, with very little knowledge 
of what was going on ; and after he had finally dis- 
appeared Margit had remained for about three hours 
in the hope that he might return. By a curious 
coincidence, at the time when Baron Napier was 
being attacked, another steamer, the Baf^on Ardrossan^ 
belonging to the same owners, happened to be passing 


and saw the shells dropping around, but as she could 
steam nothing better than 3 knots slower than 
Baron Napier she could not go to her assistance. 
However, if the submarine had not been destroyed, 
Margit had saved the Baron Napier and caused the 
enemy to break off the engagement. 

Mention was made just now of the Werribee (alias 
Wonganella, etc.). On February 3, 1916, this ship, 
which had been fitted out at Gibraltar, under the 
command of Lieut. -Commander B. J. D. Guy, R.N., 
left Port Said to cruise on the Malta to Egypt trade 
route. She was a steamer of 3,848 tons, and had 
taken in 2,600 tons of sand as ballast. About 9 o'clock 
on the morning of February 9, Werribee was steaming 
along when she picked up a signal on her wireless to 
the effect that the S.S. Springwell, of 5,593 tons, was 
torpedoed and sinking by the head. The vessel was 
soon sighted, and the last boats could be seen already 
leaving the ship, the position being about sixty miles 
from Crete. The weather was perfect, with a flat, 
calm sea and extreme visibility — an ideal day, in fact, 
for good gunnery. 

But it was to be a most difficult experience, and 
the incident well illustrates the problems which had 
to be dealt with. About 10.15 a.m., as no submarine 
could be seen, Werribee turned towards the four 
boats already in the water, and hailed them for infor- 
mation, then examined the condition of Springwell, 
and presently turned again. All of a sudden, a great 
submarine, painted like the Mediterranean pirate-ships 
of ancient times, a brownish green, emerged from 
the sea about 5,000 yards away on Werribee's star- 
board bow, and came close up to Springwell, possibly 
to prevent Wei^ribee from salving her. Alarm stations 
were sounded in the Q-ship, but the submarine's men 


were already running to their two guns, and opened 
fire. Werribee then decided to haul round and 
pretend to run away. The third shot from the enemy 
hit, and it was at first feared that the explosion had dis- 
abled one gun's crew, but fortunately the hit was a 
little further aft. It was immediately evident to 
Wei^iibee's captain that to-day the enemy was not 
going to allow him to play the abandon-ship game, 
but was intending to sink him straight away. The 
submarine's accurate and rapid fire was clearly aimed 
at Werribee's boats, and two of them were soon 
riddled. It was for Lieut.-Commander Guy to make 
up his mind quickly what tactics now to pursue, and 
he decided to reveal the ship's true character and open 
lire. This was done, and within ten seconds his 4-inch 
quick-firer was in action, range 4,000 yards. After 
six rounds from the Q-ship the enemy ceased firing, 
and the eighth seemed to hit abaft the conning-tower. 
Then she submerged in a cloud of smoke, about 11.10 
a.m., this smoke screen being a favourite ruse for 
escaping, and she was never seen again that day. 
Werribee now turned her attention to the torpedoed 
ship, but the latter was too far gone, and foundered 
at 5.45 that afternoon. The men in SpringivelVs 
boats were then picked up, and about 6 o'clock the 
ship made for Malta. It was again sheer bad luck ; a 
combination of difficult circumstances, and the tactics 
of an astute German captain, had now prevented 
success coming to the decoy. There was no question 
about her disguise, and the captain of a merchantman 
who witnessed the fight accurately spoke of Werribee 
as ' an old tramp with a few patches of paint, firing 
at the submarine.' Before the war we should have 
thought no ship in His Majesty's Service could 
possibly merit such a description as this, but strange 

Fig. 4.— Diagram to Illustrate Approximatk Movements of ' Werri- 
BEB ' IN Action with Submarinb on February 9, 1916. 


things were happening on the seas at this time, and 
it was the highest compHment so to be described. 

With the experience which had been gained from 
all these engagements in various areas it was possible 
to form some idea of the requisite standardized equip- 
ment with which Q-ships should be supplied. First 
of all, inasmuch as the enemy was being better armed, 
at least one modern 4-inch gun was necessary, in 
addition to any 12 -pounder. Long-range action, 
especially in the Mediterranean, was probable at 
times, for the enemy would not always consent to 
engage close to. Secondly, it was highly important 
that the ship should remain afloat, even though 
seriously holed. It might happen — and later on it 
actually did occur — that the enemy might suppose the 
ship was just about to founder, thus making it quite 
safe to close her in order to read her name. Then 
would come the one great chance for the Q-ship to 
destroy the enemy. Therefore, to this end, it became 
certain that these ships should be given cargoes of 
barrels, or timber, carefully stowed, so that it would 
be no easy task to sink her, and she might perhaps 
even be salved. 



Two days before the end of February, 1916, 1 happened 
to be returning from leave in England to my ship, 
which was in Queenstown for boiler-cleaning. In the 
Holyhead-Kingstown steamer I found myself in con- 
versation with a junior lieutenant-commander, R.N., 
who also was returning to his ship at Queenstown. We 
talked of many things all the way down across Ireland, 
but this quiet, taciturn officer impressed me less by 
what he said than by what he left unsaid, and it took 
me a long time to guess the name of his ship. I 
thought 1 knew most of the commanding officers of 
sloops and trawlers and drifters, and so on, at work 
off the south and south-west coasts of Ireland, but I 
had neither seen this officer nor heard his name 
before. At the beginning of the war he was unknown 
to the public ; in fact, not until three weeks after the 
end of this February did he win distinction, but to- 
day his name is known and respected in every navy 
of the world, and his career as a naval officer is different 
from anything ever recorded in the pages of history. 

This was Lieut.-Commander Gordon Camp- 
bell, who just before the war was a lieutenant in 
command of an old-fashioned destroyer based on 
Devonport. On October 21, 1915 — the date is par- 
ticularly fortunate as having been the 110th anni- 
versary of the Battle of Trafalgar —Lieutenant 


Campbell commissioned the tramp steamer Lodorer 
at Devonport as a Q-ship, but on passage thence to 
Queenstown changed her name to Farnhorougli^ as it 
had become gossip that she had been armed for special 
service. Through that trying winter the little Farn- 
borough endured gale after gale, and her young captain, 
attired in the rig of a typical tramp skipper, with his 
smart crew trained now to look slovenly yet be 
mentally alert all the time, never for a moment 
wavered in the belief that one day would come his 
opportunity. He had organized his ship to a pitch of 
perfection, and nothing was lacking except the appear- 
ance of a U-boat. 

On March 1,1916, the enemy renewed its submarine 
campaign after lying dormant since the day when 
Baralong had sunk her U41, except for the Christmas- 
time temporary outburst. During the first three 
weeks of March one, or more, submarine had sunk 
shipping off the Irish coast to the extent of three 
steamers and one sailing craft. On the morning of 
March 22, Farnborough, who had come from 
Queenstown, was now cruising up the w^est coast of 
Ireland, the exact position being Lat. 51.54 N., Long. 
10.53 W., and the time 0.40 a.m. Steaming along at 
8 knots, a submarine awash was suddenly sighted 
by one of the crew named Kaye, an A.B. of the Royal 
Naval Reserve, about five miles away on the port 
bow. After a few minutes it dived, and Farnborough 
coolly took no notice but kept jogging along the 
same course. The submarine had evidently deter- 
mined to sink the old tramp, for twenty minutes later 
she fired a torpedo which passed so close ahead of 
Farnborough that bubbles were seen under the fore- 
castle. Still she pretended to take no notice, and a 
few minutes later the submarine broke surface about 


1,000 yards astern, passing from starboard to 
port, then, having got on the Q- ship's port quarter, 
fired a shell across the latter 's bows and partly sub- 

Farnhorough now stopped her engines, blew off 
steam, and the panic party, consisting of stokers and 
spare men, were ordered to abandon ship ; so away 
they rowed under Temporary Engineer Sub- 
Eieutenant J. S. Smith, R.N.R. The enemy then 
came closer until he was but 800 yards off. Not a 
human being w^as visible aboard the ' abandoned ' 
ship, but everyone was lying concealed in expectant 
readiness, yet Lieut.-Commander Campbell was 
quietly watching every move of the enemy. A few 
minutes later the latter, intending to sink the deserted 
ship, fired a shell, but this fell 50 yards short. 
Here was Farnhorouglis big opportunity that had 
been awaited and longed for ever since last Trafalgar 
Day ; now was the time — or never. Thus the collier 
tramp declared herself a man-of-war, armed as she 
was with five 12-pounders, two 6-pounders, and one 
Maxim gun. One of the two ships must certainly go 
to her doom, and her fate would be settled in a few 
terrible moments : there would be no drawn-out 
engagement, but just a \'iolent blow, and then finish. 
Lieut.-Commander Campbell, in his place of conceal- 
ment, knew that his men could be trusted to do the 
right thing, knew that they were waiting only for 
the word from him. True, the guns' crews were not 
the kind of expert men you find in battleship or 
cruiser. They had joined the Service after the 
declaration of war, but had been trained up splendidly 
by one of the ship's officers, Lieutenant W. Beswick, 
R.N.R. On them much depended. If they fired 
too soon, became excited, made a movement, or 



bungled their work, they would give the whole show 
away, and the sinking ship would not be the sub- 

' Open fire !' came the order as the White Ensign 
was hoisted, and then from the three 12-pounders 
which could bear came a hail of shells, whilst Maxim 
and rifle fire also rained down. The light this morn- 
ing was bad, but the shooting from these newly 
trained men was so good that the submarine was 
badly holed by the rapid fire ; thus, slowly the enemy 
began to sink. Observing this, Campbell then en- 
deavoured to give her the knock-out blow, so steamed 
full speed over the spot and dropped a depth charge. 
This fairly shook the submarine, who next appeared 
about ten yards away in an almost perpendicular 
position, that portion of the craft from the bows to 
the conning-tower being out of the water. A large 
rent was discerned in her bow ; she was certainly 
doomed, and one periscope had been hit. Wasting 
none of the golden opportunity, Farnhorougfi re- 
opened fire with her after gun, which put five rounds 
into the base of the conning-tower at point-blank 
range, so that the German sank for the last time. 
Again Fariiborough steamed over the spot, and let go 
two more depth charges, and presently up came a 
large quantity of oil and bits of wood which covered 
the sea for some distance around. So quickly perished 
U 68, one of the latest submarines — a 17-knot boat, 
armed with one 4*1 -inch, one 22-pounder, a machine 
gun, eleven torpedoes, and with a cruising radius of 
11,000 miles. 

This brilliant success had a most cheering effect on 
all the patrol vessels working off the Irish coast. 
With careful reserve the story was breathed in ward- 
rooms, and it percolated through to other stations, 

Officers of Q-suip " Faenbouough " 
Captain Campbell with his officers, disguised as a mercantile captain. 

Q-SHiP Heroes 

Captain Gordon Cami^bell. V.C . D.S.O., R.X . and Lieutenant C. G. Bonner, 

Y. C. , D.S. C of Q-ship ■•Duuraven," each wearing the Victoria Cross, at the 

King's Garden Party for V.C."s. (see Cha]3ter XIV. ). 

To face p. 42 


inspiring even the most bored officer to go forth and 
do likewise. This victory had a most important 
bearing on the future of the Q-ship service, and 
officers and men were eager to take on a job 
which affiarded them so much sport. It meant 
something more, too. For, junior though he was, 
Lieutenant-Commander became Commander Gordon 
Campbell, D.S.O. ; Lieutenant W. Beswick, R.N.R., 
who had trained the guns' crew so well, and the 
Engineer-I^ieutenant Loveless received each a D.S.C., 
and three of the crew the coveted D.S.M. There 
followed also the usual £1,000 in addition to prize 
bounty. Of the ship's complement seven of the 
officers belonged to the Royal Naval Reserve, and 
many of the ratings were either of that service or the 
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. 

Adventures are to the adventurous. In less than 
a month from this event Farnborough was again 
engaged with a submarine, under circumstances more 
difficult than the last. One who was present at the 
engagement described it to me, and though the 
submarine managed afterwards to reach Germany, 
she was wounded, and only just escaped total 
destruction. However, this in no way detracts from 
the merits of the story, which is as follows: The 
scene was similar to that of the previous incident, 
the exact position being Lat. 51.57 N., Long. 11.2 W. 
— that is to say, off the west coast of Ireland. The 
time was 6.30 in the afternoon of April 15, 1916, 
and Farnborough was proceeding northward, doing 
5 knots, for Commander Campbell was hoping 
to intercept a German submarine which had been 
reported off the Orkneys on the 13th, and was 
probably coming down the west Irish coast. 

At the time mentioned the sea was calm and it 


was misty, but about two miles off on the starboard 
quarter could be seen a steamer. Suddenly, without 
warning, between the two ships a submarine broke 
surface, but Commander Campbell pretended to 
ignore her until she hoisted the international signal 
TAF (' Bring your papers on board '). Owing to 
the mist it was impossible to distinguish the flags 
clearly enough to read them. However, Commander 
Campbell stopped his ship Hke a terrified tramp, 
blew off steam, but quietly kept her jogging ahead 
so as to edge towards the enemy and avoid falling into 
the trough of the heavy Atlantic swell. There was 
the submarine lying full length on the surface, about 
300 feet long, with a very large conning- tower amid- 
ships, one gun forward, one aft, and most of the hull 
painted a light grey. In reply to the German's 
signal Farnborough now kept her answering pennant 
at the dip and hoisted ' Cannot understand your 
signal.' All this delay was valuable to the Q-ship, 
for it allowed her to close the range stealthily ; and 
now the submarine also came closer, with her fore- 
most gun already manned. In the meantime, the 
* tramp ' did what she was expected to do — hoisted the 
signal ' I am sending boat with ship's papers,' and at 
the same time the bridge boat was turned out (again 
in command of Sub -Lieutenant J. S. Smith, R.N.R.), 
and Commander Campbell was seen to hand his 
papers to this officer to take over to the submarine. 
It was now 6.40 p.m., and the German fired a shot 
which passed over the ship, doing no direct harm, but 
incidentally spoiling the whole affair. The best laid 
schemes of Q-ship captains, and the most efficient 
crews, occasionally go astray. One of Farnborough' s 
people, hearing this gun, thought that Farnborough 
had opened fire, so accordingly fired also. It was 


unfortunate, but there it was. This mistake forced 
Commander Campbell's hand ; he at once hoisted 
the White Ensign and gave the general order to fire. 
The range was now about 1,000 yards, and he pro- 
ceeded at full speed so as to bring his after gun 
to bear, the ships becoming about in this position : 

O s/m submerged 

2iord'?'-^.^ '^•^■^'^•- /.00^'y^^' -q:;-. 



o h ^<5. . 

Duh:h SS. 


Fig. 5. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Positions of ' Farn- 


The enemy had been about a point before the 
FarnborougJis starboard beam, but when the action 
commenced the former had been brought successfully 
on the beam. The Q- ship's 12-pounders quickly got 
off a score of rounds, accompanied by the 6-pounder 
and the JNIaxim and rifles. Quite early the enemy 
became damaged, and eventually she submerged 
under the screen of smoke, a remarkably near escape 
which must have made a great impression on her 
crew. After dropping depth charges, Farnborough 
closed the strange steamer which had been stopped 
about 500 yards off, and found her to be the 
Dutch S.S. Soerakarta. With true seamanlike 
chivalry the Dutch captain, pitying the shabby-look- 


ing tramp steamship, actually offered Commander 
Campbell assistance. This neutral was bound from 
the Dutch East Indies to Rotterdam, via Falmouth 
and Kirkwall, and on sighting him the submarine 
had hoisted the usual ' Bring your papers on board.' 
The Dutchman had just lowered his boat, and was 
about to row off to the German, when up came the 
unkempt collier Farnborough with a white band on 
her funnel, and then, to the amazement of all 
beholders, from her blazed shell after shell. It was a 
splendid free show, and one shell was distinctly seen 
to hit the conning-tower. Two miles away from the 
scene was the armed trawler hia Williams on patrol, 
and as soon as she heard the firing she went to action 
stations and came along at full speed. Ten minutes 
later she felt a couple of shocks, so that her captain 
thought she had struck something. These were, in 
fact, the concussions of the two depth charges which 
Farnborough had dropped. 

If the submarine had escaped, at least he would be 
able to warn his superiors at home that they could 
never tell the difference between a ' trap-ship ' and a 
genuine merchantman, and it would be safer not to 
attack steamers unless they were perfectly sure. 
During the rest of that year Commander Campbell 
continued to cruise in Farnborough, but the summer 
and autumn passed and no further luck offered 

Winter followed and was almost merging into 
spring, and then again this ship made history. In 
another chapter this thrilling episode will be told. 
In the meantime much else had happened. 

One of the greatest enthusiasts of the Q-ship idea 
was Vice- Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, who was in com- 
mand of the Irish coast. No Q-ship officer serving 


under this admiral could ever complain that anything 
was left undone by assistance that could have been 
performed by the sagacity or advice of this Com- 
mander-in-Chief. It was he who made repeated 
visits to the Q-ships as they lay in Haulbowline 
Dockyard, in order to see that not the smallest 
important detail for efficiency was lacking. The 
positions of the guns, the collapsing of the screens, 
the erection of the dummy deckhouses concealing the 
guns, the comfort of the personnel — nothing was too 
trivial for his attention provided it aimed at the one 
end of sinking the enemy. As with ships, so with 
officers. With his vast knowledge of human nature, 
and his glance which penetrated into a man's very 
soul, he could size up the right type of volunteer for 
decoy work ; then, having once selected him and sent 
him to sea, he assisted him all the time whenever 
wireless was advisable, and on their return to port 
encouraged, advised, and rested the captains, while 
the Haulbowline Dockyard paid every attention to 
improving the Q-ship's fighting power. No keen, 
capable officer on this station who did his job ever 
failed to get his reward ; and the result of all this, and 
the certain knowledge that if in extremis a Queens- 
town naval ship would at once be sent to his rescue, 
created such a fine spirit that an officer would almost 
sooner die than return to port after making a blunder 
of an engagement. By reason of this, the Queens- 
town Q-ships became famous for their high standard 
and achievements. In the spring of 1916 the four 
experienced decoys Farnboi^ough, ZylpJia, Vala, and 
Penshurst, were operating from that port. They 
cruised off the south and south-west Irish coasts ; 
between Milford Haven and the Scillies ; off the 
western approach to the English Channel ; up the 


Irish Sea as far as the north of Ireland. In a few 
weeks four more decoys were added to that station, so 
that there were eight of them by July. They cruised 
along the merchant ship courses as far out into the 
Atlantic as 17° W., as far south as the middle of the 
Bay of Biscay, as far east as the Isle of Wight, and 
as far north as the Hebrides — in other words, just 
where U-boats were likely to attack. One of these 
eight was the S.S. Carrigan Head, which was com- 
manded by Lieut. -Commander Godfrey Herbert, 
D.S.O., R.N., late in command of the Antwerp. 
CaiTigan Head was a fine ship of 4,201 tons, and, 
in order to make her practically unsinkable, she was 
sent to Portsmouth, where she was filled with 
empty casks and timber. As may be expected 
from her commander, this was a very efficient ship. 
Below, the timber had been stowed in the holds with 
great cleverness so that it would have been a con- 
siderable time before she could ever founder. I well 
remember on one occasion wandering all over the 
decks of this ship, but it was quite impossible to see 
where her big 4-inch and two 1 2-pound ers were 

That being so, it was not surprising that a sub- 
marine never suspected on September 9, 1916, that 
this was another ' trap-ship.' It was just before 6.30 
in the evening that this steamer was sixty miles south- 
west of the Lizard, when a submarine was sighted 
about 2,000 yards off on the starboard bow. The 
enemy had hoisted some flag signals, but they were 
too small to be read. It was presumed that it was 
the usual order to stop, so the steamer hove-to and 
the captain called up the stokers who were off watch 
to stand by the lifeboats, for all this time the sub- 
marine, who had two guns, was firing at the ship. 


Having lowered the starboard lifeboat halfway down 
to the water, the Q-ship pretended to try and escape, 
so went full speed ahead, turned to port, and brought 
the enemy right astern. The German maintained a 
rapid fire, many shots coming unpleasantly across the 
bridge, one entering the forecastle and wounding two 
men, of whom one afterwards died. Another shell 
entered the engineers' messroom and slightly injured 
Temporary Engineer Sub- Lieutenant James Purdy, 
R.N.R. This same shell also cut the leads to the 
wireless room just above. 

As several shells fell within a few feet of the ship, 
Commander Herbert decided to feign surrender, 
hoisted the International Code pennant close up, 
turned eight points to port, but with the real intention 
of firing on the submarine, which had now risen to 
the surface with complete buoyancy and presented a 
good target. But in turning to port, Carrigan Head 
was thus brought broadside on to the swell, so that the 
ship began to roll heavily and helm had to be altered 
to get her head on to the sea. At 6.50 p.m. the 
enemy was about 1,500 yards away, and while both 
lifeboats were being lowered the submarine kept up 
an intermittent fire. Three minutes later Commander 
Herbert decided to reveal the character of his ship 
and attack ; therefore, going full speed ahead, he 
fired seven rounds, one of which seemed to hit. The 
submarine was considerably surprised and at once 
dived, so having arrived near the spot Carrigan Head 
dropped depth charges. The enemy was not sunk, 
but she did not reappear, such was her fright, until 
an hour and a half later when she sank the Norwegian 
S.S. Lodsen off the Scillies. The enemy's behaviour 
was typical : as soon as he was attacked he broke off 
the engagement and took to flight by submerging, 


and it was only on the rarest occasions that he was 
willing to fight, as were the Q-ships, to a finish. 

By reason of their service, Q-ship officers became 
a race apart. Their arrival and departure were kept 
a profound secret, night-time or early morning being 
usually selected. The ships were worked as separate 
units, not as squadrons, and their cruising ground 
was always being changed. They went to sea in 
strange garments, and when they came ashore they 
usually wore ' plain clothes,' the naval equivalent for 
the soldiers' expression 'mufti.' At a time when all 
the nation was in arms and for a healthy man to 
be seen out of uniform was to excite derisive anger, 
some of the Q-ship officers had amusing and awk- 
ward experiences. Arrived in port at the end of 
a trying cruise, and rather looking forward to a 
pleasant respite for a few days, they would run 
against some old friend in a public place, and be 
greeted by some such remark as, ' Why aren't you in 
uniform V or ' What ship are you serving in ? I 
didn't know yo7i were on this station ; come and have 
a drink.' It was difficult to preserve secrecy when 
such questions were asked direct by old shipmates. 
Who knew but that the man two paces away was 
a spy, who would endanger the lives of the Q-ship 
and crew the next time they put to sea ? Surely, if 
there be occasions when it is legitimate to tell a lie, 
this was a justifiable one. Thus the life in this 
special service was one that called for all the ability 
which is usually latent in any one man. I do not 
ever remember a Q-ship officer who was not some- 
thing more than able. Some were killed, some were 
taken prisoners by submarines, some broke down in 
health ; but in no case did you ever find one who 


failed to realize the intense seriousness of his job 
or neglected any means of keeping himself in perfect 
physical health and the highest possible condition of 
mental alertness. Not once could he be caught off 
his guard ; the habit was ingrained in him. 



Most people would have thought that the sail-driven 
decoys would have had a very short life, and that 
they would speedily have succumbed. On the con- 
trary, though their work was more trying and 
demanded a different kind of seamanship, these 
' mystery ' ships went on bravely tackling the enemy. 
The Lowestoft armed smacks, for instance, during 
1916 had some pretty stiff tussles, and we know 
now that they thoroughly infuriated the Germans, 
who threatened to have their revenge. I^ooked at 
from the enemy's aspect, it certainly was annoying 
to see a number of sailing smacks spread off the 
coast, each obviously trawling, but not to know 
which of them would in a moment cut her gear and 
sink the submarine with her gun. It was just that 
element of suspense which made a cautious German 
officer very chary of going near these craft, whereas 
he might have sunk the whole fishing fleet if he 
dared. It was not merely annoying ; it was humili- 
ating that a small sailing craft should have the 
impertinence to contend with the super-modern ship 
of a German naval officer. That, of course, was not 
the way to look at the matter ; for it was a contest, 
as we have seen, in which brains and bravery were 
factors more decisive than anything else. The average 
British fisherman is ignorant of many things which 
are learnt only in nautical academies, but the last 



you could accuse him of being is a fool or a funk. 
His navigation in these sailing smacks is quaint and 
primitive, but he relies in thick weather chiefly on the 
nature of the sea-bed. He can almost smell his way, 
and a cast of the lead confirms his surmise ; he finds 
he is just where he expected to be. So with his 
character. Hardened by years of fishing in all 
weathers, and angered to extreme indignation during 
the war by the loss of good ships and lives of his 
relatives and friends, this type of man, so long as his 
decoy smack had any sort of gun, was the keenest 
of the keen. 

One of these smacks was the l^elesia, armed only 
with a 3-pounder, and commanded by Skipper W. S. 
^Yharton, who did extraordinarily well in this 
dangerous service. On March 23, 1916, he was 
trawling roughly thirty-five miles S.E. of Lowestoft, 
when about midday he sighted a submarine three 
miles off, steering to the north-east. At 1.30 p.m. 
the German, who was evidently one of the cautious 
type, and having a careful scrutiny before attacking, 
approached within 50 yards of the Telesias starboard 
bow, and submerged with her periscope just show- 
ing. She came back an hour later to have another 
look, and again disappeared until 4.30 p.m., when she 
approached from the north-east. Having got about 
300 yards away she attacked, but she had not the 
courage to fight on the surface a little sailing craft 
built of wood. Instead, she remained submerged 
and fired a torpedo. Had that hit, Telesla and her 
men would have been blown to pieces ; but it just 
missed the smack's bows by four feet. Skipper 
Wharton at once brought his gun into action, and 
fired fifteen rounds at the periscope, which was the 
only part of her that could be seen, and an almost 


impossible target. The enemy disappeared, but 
arrived back in half an hour, and this time the 
periscope showed on the starboard quarter, coming 
straight for the smack, and rising out of the water 
at the same time. Again she fired a torpedo, and 
it seemed certain to hit, but happily it passed 
40 feet astern. At a range of only 75 yards the 
smack now fired a couple of shots as the enemy 
showed her deck. The first shot seemed to hit the 
conning-tower, and then the fore part of the hull was 
observed coming out of the water. The second shot 
struck between the conning-tower and the hatch, 
whereupon the enemy went down by the bows, 
showing her propeller. She was a big craft, judging 
by the size of her conning-tower, and certainly larger 
than those which had recently been sinking Lowes- 
toft smacks. Skipper Wharton, whilst fishing, had 
himself been chased, so he was fairly familiar with 
their appearance. Whether the enemy was actually 
sunk is a matter of doubt. Perhaps she was not 
destroyed, although UB 13 was lost this month ; how 
and where are unknown. One thing is certain, how- 
ever, that the little Telesia caused her to break oflP 
the engagement and disappear. The smack could do 
no more, for the wind had now died right away, and 
this fact demonstrated the importance of these decoy 
smacks being fitted with motors, so that the craft 
would be able to manoeuvre in the absence of wind ; 
and this improved equipment was now in certain 
cases adopted. Skipper Wharton well deserved his 
D.S.C. for this incident, and two of the ship's com- 
pany also received the D.S.M. The whole crew 
numbered eight, consisting of Skipper Wharton, a 
naval chief petty officer, a leading seaman, a marine, 
an A.B., and three fishermen. 


On the following April 23 Telesia — this time under 
the name of Hobby hawk and under the command of 
Lieutenant H. W. Harvey, R.N.V.R. — together with 
a similar smack named the Cheero, commanded by 
Lieutenant W. F. Scott, R.N.R., put to sea from 
Lowestoft. They had recently been fitted with 
specially designed nets, to which were attached 
mines. It had been found that with 600 yards of 
these nets towing astern the smack could still sail 
ahead at a speed of 3 knots. A bridle made out 
of a trawler's warp was stopped down the towing 
wire and from forward of the smack, so that she 
would look exactly like a genuine smack when fishing 
with the ordinary trawl. All that was required was 
that the submarine should foul these nets astern, 
when, if everything worked as it should, destruction 
to the enemy would follow. 

At 5.45 that afternoon, when 10 miles N.E. of the 
Smith's Knoll Pillar Buoy, the nets were shot and 
the batteries connected up to the net-mines. The 
wind was light, so Cheero, towing away to the south- 
east, was going ahead very slowly. Each of these 
two smacks was fitted with a hydrophone by means 
of which the beat of a vessel's engines could be 
heard, the noise of a submarine's being very different 
from that of reciprocating engines in a steamer. 
About 7 p.m. Cheero distinctly heard on her instru- 
ment the steady, quick, buzzing, unmistakable noise 
of a submarine, and the noise gradually increased. 
About three-quarters of an hour later the wire lead- 
ing to the nets suddenly became tight and stretched 
along the smack's rail. The strain eased up a little, 
became tight again, then an explosion followed in 
the nets, and the sounds of the submarine's engines 
were never heard again. The sea was blown by the 


explosion 20 feet high, and as the water was settHng 
down another upheaval took place, followed by oil. 
The crew remained at their stations for a few minutes 
awaiting further developments, and then were ordered 
to haul the nets, but a great strain was now felt, so 
that instead of two men it required six. As the 
second net was coming in, the whole fleet of nets 
took a sharp angle down, and a small piece of steel 
was brought on board. Other pieces of steel came 
adrift and fell into the sea. As the third net was 
being hauled in, the whole of the nets suddenly 
became free and were got in quite easily, whilst the 
crew remarked on the strong smell of oil. It was 
found that one mine had exploded, and when the 
nets were eventually further examined ashore in 
Lowestoft there could be no doubt but that a sub- 
marine had been blown up, and more pieces of steel, 
some of considerable size, dropped out. Thus UC 3, 
with all hands, was destroyed. She was one of the 
small mine-layers which used to come across from 
Zeebrugge fouling the shipping tracks along the East 
Anglian coast with her deadly cargoes, and causing 
the destruction of merchant shipping, Allied and 
neutral alike. On May 1 8 of the same year Hobbyhawk 
(Telesia) and a similar smack, the Revenge (alias 
Fame), had a stiff encounter with a submarine in 
about the same place, but there is reason to suppose 
that in this case the enemy was not sunk. 

This idea of commissioning sailing smacks as Q-ships 
now began to be adopted in other areas. Obviously 
only that kind of fishing craft could be employed 
which ordinarily were wont to fish those particular 
waters ; otherwise the submarine would at once have 
become suspicious. Thus, at the end of May, a 
couple of Brixham smacks, which usually fished out 


of Milford, were fitted out at Falmouth, armed each 
with a 12-pounder, and then sent round to operate in 
the Milford district. These were the Kermes and 
Sb'umhles respectively. They were manned by a 
specially selected crew, and the two commanding 
officers were Lieutenant E. L. Hughes, R.N.R., and 
Sub-Lieutenant J. Hayes, R.N.R. But although 
they were given a good trial, these craft were not 
suitable as soon as the autumn bad weather came on. 
Their freeboard was too low, they heeled over too 
much in the strong prevailing winds, so that it was 
difficult to get the gun to bear either to windward or 
leeward ; and, except when on the top of a sea, their 
range of vision was limited, so before November was 
out these ships ceased to be men-of-war and were 
returned to their owners. 

Along the Yorkshire coast is found a type of open 
boat which is never seen farther north than North- 
umberland and never farther south than Lincolnshire. 
This is the cobble, a peculiar and rather tricky kind 
of craft used by the fishermen of Whitby, Scarborough, 
Bridlington, Filey, and elsewhere. They carry one 
lug-sail and can be rowed, a single thole-pin taking 
the place of a rowlock. The smaller type of cobble 
measures 28 feet long by 2j feet deep, but the larger 
type, capable of carrying nine tons, is just under 
34 feet long by 4f feet deep. Here, then, was a boat 
which, with her shallow draught, could with safety 
sail about in the numerous minefields oft the York- 
shire coast. No submarine would ever suspect these 
as being anything but fishermen trying to snatch a 
living. In the early summer of 1916 two of these 
boats, the Thalia and Blessing, were commissioned. 
They were sailing cobbles fitted with auxiliary motors, 
and were sent to work south-east of the Humber in 


the Silver Pit area. Here they pretended to fish, 
towing 300 yards of mine-nets, 30 feet deep, in the 
hope that, as had happened oiF Lowestoft, the sub- 
marine would come along and be blown up. However, 
they had no luck, and after a few months' service 
these boats also were returned to their owners. But 
in spite of this, Q-sailing-ships were still being taken 
up, the difficulty being to select the right type. Even 
in the Mediterranean the idea was employed. Enemy 
submarines had been destroying a number of sailing 
vessels, so the Admiralty purchased one local craft, 
gave her a small auxiliary motor, and towed her to 
Mudros, where she could be armed and equipped in 
secrecy. One day she set forth from Malta in com- 
pany with a British submarine, and two days later 
was off the coast of Sicily. Here the sailing craft 
attracted a large enemy submarine, the British sub- 
marine of course watching, but submerged. Un- 
fortunately, just when the enemy might have been 
torpedoed, the heavy swell caused the British sub- 
marine to break surface. The enemy was quick to 
observe this, dived for his life, and disappeared. The 
rest of the story is rather ludicrous. The British 
submarine remained submerged in the hope that the 
enemy would presently come to the surface, while 
the sailing craft lost touch with her consort and 
turned towards Malta, using her motor. The next 
incident was that she sighted 6 miles astern an 
unmistakable submarine, which was at once taken 
for the enemy. Being without his own submarine, 
the somewhat inexperienced R.N. V.R. officer in com- 
mand made an error of judgment, and, abandoning 
the ship, destroyed her, being subsequently picked 
up by a Japanese destroyer. It was afterwards 
discovered that this was our own submarine who 


had been working with the saiHng craft, and was now 
on her way back to INI alta ! 

The other day, laid up hidden away at the top of 
a sheltered creek in Cornwall, I came upon an in- 
teresting brigantine. Somehow I felt we had met 
before, but she was looking a little forlorn ; there 
was no life in the ship, yet she seemed in that curious 
way, which ships ha^ e in common with human beings, 
to possess a powerful personality. Freights were bad, 
the miners were on strike, and here was this good 
little vessel lying idle, and not so much as noticed 
by those who passed. Then 1 found out who she 
w^as. Here was an historic ship, the famous Helgo- 
land, which served right through to the end of the 
war from the summer of 1916. Now she was back 
in the Merchant Service, and no one seemed to care ; 
yet hundreds of years hence people will write and 
talk of her, as they still do of Grenville's Revenge or 
the old clipper-ships Cutty Sark and Thermopylae. 

Helgoland had been built in 1895 of steel and iron 
at Martenshoek in Holland, where they specialize in 
this kind of construction, but she was now British 
owned and registered at Plymouth. She measured 
122 feet 9 inches long, 23 feet 3 inches beam, drew 
8 feet aft, and her tonnage was 310 burthen and 182 
net. In July, 1916, this ship was lying in Liverpool 
undergoing an extensive overhaul, and here she was 
taken over from her owners and sent to Falmouth, 
where she was fitted out forthwith as a Q-ship. 
Armed with four 12-pounders and one Maxim, she 
was known officially in future under the various 
names of Helgoland, Horley, Brig 10, and Q 17. 
Her crew were carefully chosen from the personnel 
serving in Auxiliary Patrol vessels at Falmouth, with 
the exception of the guns' crews ; the ship's comple- 


ment consisting of two R.N.R. officers, one skipper, 
one second hand, two petty officers, six Royal Navy 
gunnery ratings, eight deckhands of the Trawler 
Reserve, one carpenter, one steward, and one cook, 
the last three being mercantile ratings. Of her two 
officers one was Temporary Sub-Lieutenant W. E. L. 
Sanders, R.N.R. , who, by reason of his sailing-ship 
experience, was appointed as mate. This was that 
gallant New Zealander who had come across the 
ocean to help the Motherland, performed amazing 
service in Q-ships, fought like a gentleman, won the 
Victoria Cross, and eventually, with his ship and all 
his crew, went to the bottom like the true hero that 
he was. The story must be told in a subsequent 

When we consider the actions fought by these 
topsail schooners and brigantines in the Great War 
we appear almost to be dreaming, to be sent right 
back to the sixteenth century, and modernity seems 
to have been swept clean away. While the Grand 
Fleet was unable, these sailing ships were carrying 
on the warfare for which they had never been built. 
In the whole of the Royal Navy there were hardly 
any suitable officers nowadays who possessed practical 
experience in handling schooners. This was where 
the officer from the Mercantile Marine, the amateur 
yachtsman, the coasting skipper, and the fisherman 
became so invaluable. In these days of decaying 
seamanship, when steam and motors are dominant, it 
is well to set these facts down lest we forget. The 
last of the naval training brigs has long since gone, 
and few officers or men, even in the Merchant Service, 
serve an apprenticeship under sail. 

Helgoland left Falmouth after dark, September 6, 
1916, on her first cruise as a man-of-war, and she had 


but a few hours to wait before her first engagement 
took place. Commanded by Lieutenant A. D. Blair, 
R.N.R., she was on her way to Milford, and at 
1.30 p.m. on the following day was only 10 miles 
south of the Lizard when she sighted a submarine 
on the surface 3 points on the starboard quarter. 
There was an alarm bell fitted up in Helgoland which 
was rung only for action stations, and, as it now 
sounded, each man crept stealthily to his appointed 
place. Under the command of Lieutenant W. E, L. 
Sanders, R.N.R., and following his example of perfect 
calmness, the guns' crews carried out their work 
without flurry or excitement. 

Within five minutes the enemy, from a distance of 
2,000 yards, had begun shelling the brigantine. The 
first shot fell 10 yards short, but the second and third 
struck the foretopsail yard — how strange it seems to 
use the time-honoured phrases of naval warfare for a 
twentieth-century fight — one shell going right through 
the yard. It happened that on this fine summer's 
day there was no wind ; so here was the unlucky 
Helgoland becalmed and unable to manoeuvre so as 
to bring her guns to bear as required. It seemed as 
if the enemy intended to lie off and shell this perfect 
target with impunity, directing the fire from ahead 
and astern, which was just the way the brigantine's 
guns would not bear. However, after the second 
shot from the submarine, the Helgoland's guns would 
just bear, so Lieutenant Blair dropped his screens and 
opened fire whilst still there was a chance. The 
fourth round from the after gun seemed to hit the 
enemy, and she immediately lurched and dived. 
Lieutenant Blair then sent two of his hands aloft to 
look for periscopes, and in a few minutes one was 
sighted on the starboard quarter 200 yards away and 


closing. Two rounds from each of the starboard 
guns were therefore fired, one striking the water very 
close to the periscope, which again disappeared. 

Nothing further happened until half an hour later, 
when a larger submarine with sail set, about the size 
of a drifter's mizzen, was sighted right aft. As soon 
as this U-boat bore 3 points on the port quarter, 
she also was attacked, and dived under cover of her 
smoke screen. The afternoon passed, and at dusk 
(7 p.m.), when there was still no wind, the sound of a 
submarine's motors was heard as if circling around 
the brigantine. An hour later Helgoland bent her 
new foretopsail, and just before 9.30 a submarine 
was seen right ahead, so in the calm the Q-ship could 
not get her guns to bear. Half an hour later, as 
there was still no wind, Helgoland spoke an armed 
trawler, who towed her back to Falmouth. Just as 
the two ships were communicating, the enemy fired a 
couple of torpedoes which, thanks to Helgoland's 
shallow draught, passed under her amidships. So 
ended the brigantine's first cruise. It was unfortu- 
nate that at long range she had been compelled to 
open fire and disclose her identity, but that was owing 
to the calm, and subsequently she was fitted with an 
auxiliary motor. 

Her next fight was in much the same position, 
about 20 miles S.W. of the Lizard. At 6.20 a.m. 
on October 24, 1916, Helgoland, now commanded by 
Lieutenant G. G. Westmore, R.N.R., was on an 
E.S.E. course, the wind being S.W., force 4, and there 
was a moderate sea. About a mile off on the star- 
board bow was a large tramp steamer steering a 
westerly course, and presently was seen a submarine 
following astern of the tramp. Lieutenant Westmore 
at once sent his crew to quarters, keeping all of them 

Position I. ah 6-30am. 


Q.I7. Course E.(tTue) 




Position 2. at 6-42 a.m. 
inact of hauling to wind and 
opening fire on s/m. 

'BA CDAU 'abandoned 


Q. 17 fired S rounds 


S/M shelling steamer 



Position 3. at 6-50 a.m 
Q.I7. tacked ship and 
opened pre with portions. 

fired —X^^'^ 
1-^ rounds' 



Fig. 6. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of 
' Helgoland ' and Submarine on October 24, 1916. 


out of sight, with the exception of the ratings who 
represented the watch that ordinarily would be seen 
on the deck of such a coaster. In order to pass close 
to the German, the brigantine hauled to the wind, 
and at 6.42 the submarine opened fire on the 
steamer. As the enemy was now abeam, and only 
1,000 yards to windward of the Helgoland, Lieutenant 
Westmore determined that this was the opportune 
moment. To wait longer would only have meant an 
increase in the range ; so down went the screens and 
fire was opened with the starboard guns. The second 
and third shots seemed to strike the enemy amidships, 
and she then dived, after firing only one round, which 
passed well astern. Everything had worked well 
except that the screen had jammed at the critical 
moment, but Lieutenant Sanders, who was seeing 
that guns and crew were ready, soon cleared it. 
While he was looking after his men, and Lieutenant 
Westmore was generally looking after the ship. 
Skipper William Smith, R.N.R., was at the wheel 
steering with marked coolness, and Skipper R. W. 
Hannaford, R.N.R., w^as in charge of the sails, hand- 
ling them and trimming the yards as required. 

The first submarine was painted a dark colour, with 
a brown sail set aft, so that at first she resembled one 
of our drifters. And now a second U-boat, painted a 
light colour with no sail, was seen two miles away 
heading for the tramp steamer. The latter happened 
to be the Admiralty transport Bagdale, whose crew 
had by now abandoned her, the ship's boats being 
close to the submarine. Helgoland w^ent about on 
the other tack and stood towards the enemy, so as to 
save the Bagdale, and at 4,000 yards fired at the sub- 
marine. The latter was not hit, dived, came to the 
surface and made off to the south-west, not being seen 


after this. The brigantine stood by the abandoned 
Bagdale, tacking ship at frequent intervals, so as to 
prevent the submarine resuming her onslaught. Soon 
after nine two trawlers were observed, and summoned 
by gunfire and rockets. They were sent to pick up 
the crew and to tow the transport into Falmouth. 
Thus, if no submarine had been sunk, this sailing 
ship had saved the steamer by frightening away the 
enemy, and there were more engagements still to 

By this — October, 1916 — the Q-ship service had 
increased to such an extent that there were actually 
forty-seven decoy craft operating. These com- 
prised almost every kind of vessel, from motor 
drifters to medium-sized steamers. Their success or 
failure depended partly on captain and crew, but 
partly on luck. Some Q-ships, as we have seen, 
never sighted a U-boat; others were in action as 
soon as they got out of port. The advantage of 
these Q-sailing-ships was that they could keep the 
sea independent of the shore for periods much longer 
than the trawlers or tramps. Owing to their roomy 
decks, these coasters were well suited for the erection 
of dummy deckhouses to conceal the armament, and 
another advantage was that, not utilizing engines or a 
propeller — except when used occasionally — there was 
no noise to prevent constant listening on the hydro- 
phones. There was always the chance that during 
the dark hours, when the enemy on his hydrophones 
could not hear the sailing ship approaching, the 
schooner or brigantine might suddenly surprise and 
sink a submarine lying on the surface charging its 
batteries. The result was that in the first week 
of November another sailing craft was requisitioned. 
This was the three-masted barquentine Gaelic, which 



was then lying at Swansea loaded with 300 tons of 
coal. Gaelic, who was known officially afterwards 
also under the names of Gobo, Brig 11, and Q 22, 
was 126 feet 8 inches long and 24 feet in the beam. 
She had been built of iron in 1898, was registered at 
Beaumaris, and remained in service throughout the 
rest of the war. In August, 1918, she was operating 
in the Bay of Biscay, and then returned to Gibraltar. 
At the end of November she left ' the Rock,' reached 
Falmouth by the middle of December, and then was 
towed to Milford to be paid off, reconditioned, and 
returned to commercial work. But before then, as 
we shall presently see, she was to carry out some 
first-class work. . 

There is no person more conservative than the 
seafaring man ; the whole history of the sailing ship 
shows this clearly enough, and it is curious how one 
generation is much the same as another. It was 
Lord Melville who, in the early years of the nine- 
teenth century, stated that it. was the duty of the 
Admiralty to discourage, to the utmost of their 
ability, the employment of steam vessels, as they 
considered the introduction of steam was calculated 
to strike a fatal blow to the naval supremacy of 
Great Britain. A hundred years later, although the 
Q-sailing-ship had justified herself, yet there was 
a sort of conservative prejudice against her develop- 
ment. ' The small sailing vessel,' complained a 
distinguished admiral, ' will develop into a sailing 
line-of-battle ship with an electric-light party reefing 
topsails and a seaplane hidden in the foretopmen's 
washdeck locker, and everybod)'^ seasick.' 

Yes : there was much in common between this 
flag-officer and the noble lord, in spite of the inter- 
vening century. 



It was the activities and successes of the submarines 
in the western end of the EngUsh Channel that had 
made these small Q-sailing-ships so desirable. The 
first of these to be used in that area was the Mary B. 
Mitchell. She was a three-masted topsail steel 
schooner owned by Lord Penrhyn. Built at Carrick- 
fergus in 1892 and registered at Beaumaris, she was 
129 feet in length, and of 210 tons gross. In the 
middle of April, 1916, she happened to be lying in 
Falmouth with a cargo of china clay, and it was 
decided to requisition her. The difficulty always was 
to preserve secrecy during her fitting out, but in this 
case, luckily, she had recently suffered some damage, 
and this afforded an excellent excuse for paying off 
the mercantile crew. A new crew was selected for 
her and was trained specially for the work while she 
was being got ready for her special service. She was 
commissioned on JNIay 5, and left Falmouth for her 
first cruise on June 2G, and then operated for a month 
on end in the western approaches between Ushant, the 
Irish coast, and Milford. 

Her captain was Lieutenant M. Armstrong, R.N.R., 
and she was known officially as the Mitchell and Q 9. 
During her cruising she sailed also under three 
different neutral flags, as convenient. Armed with 
three guns, her 12-pounder was hidden in a dummy 



collapsible house on the poop, and under each of the 
two hatches was a G-pounder mounted on a swhiging 
pedestal. There were also a couple of Lewis guns, 
some small arms and Mills hand-grenades. In spite 
of the thoroughness with which the guns were con- 
cealed, the collapsible arrangements had been made so 
ingeniously that all guns could be brought into action 
under three seconds. Before leaving Falmouth she 
was painted black with a yellow streak and bore the 




on her hull, so as to look like a neutral. But until 
she had got clear of Falmouth this inscription was 
covered over with a plate bearing her real name. In 
order to be able to pick up signals at sea she was 
fitted with a small wireless receiving set, the wire 
being easily disguised in the rigging. Rolling about 
in the swell of the Atlantic or the chops of the 
English Channel for four weeks at a time is apt to 
get on the nerves of a crew unable to have a stretch 
ashore : so in order to keep everyone on board fit and 
cheery, boxing-gloves and gymnastic apparatus were 

No one could deny that she was an efficient ship. 
During her first cruise she used to carry out gun-trials 
at night ; hatches sliding smoothly off, guns swinging 
splendidly into position, and a broadside fired as soon 
as the bell for action sounded. Until that bell was 
pressed, none of the crew was allowed to be visible 
on deck other than the normal watch. One of the 
difficulties in these ships was that the decks might be 
damaged with the shock of firing, but in the Mitchell 
they had been so strengthened that not a seam was 


sprung nor so much as a glass cracked. You may 
guess how perfect was her disguise from the following 
incident. Pretending she was a Spaniard, she was 
one day boarded at sea and examined by some of the 
Falmouth patrol trawlers. These were completely 
deceived, for even though their crews had watched 
her fitting out, yet she had painted herself a different 
colour the night before leaving that port. Even in 
the Bay of Biscay several British transports on sight- 
ing the ' Spaniard ' altered course and steamed away, 
evidently suspecting she was co-operating with a 

She was back from her first cruise on July 2.5 just 
before midnight and left again at midnight on 
August 3-4. This time she impersonated the French 
three-masted schooner Jeaiinette, a vessel of 226 tons, 
registered at La Houle, for Mitchell now made a 
cruise in the neighbourhood of the Channel Islands 
and the western channel. During the next few 
months she continued to sail about the last-mentioned 
area, in the Bristol Channel near Lundy Island, and 
in the Bay of Biscay, sometimes as Jeannette, some- 
times as the Blaine, of St. Malo, and sometimes as the 
Russian Neptun, of Riga. 

It was in January, 1917, that she had an experience 
which showed the fine seamanship and sound judg- 
ment which were essential in the captain of such a 
secret ship. His name was Lieutenant John Lawrie, 
R.N.R., a man of strong personality, a real sailor, and 
possessed of valuable initiative. On the evening of 
January 7, Mitchell was off Berry Head, just east of 
Dartmouth, when bad weather came on, and this 
developed into a strong winter's gale. There was 
every reason why a Q-ship should not run into the 
nearest port for shelter, as her presence would lead to 


awkward questions, whereas secrecy was the essence 
of her existence. The gale blew its fiercest, and by 
the following night Mitchell was having an alarming 
time. Just after 9.30 p.m the foremast and spars 
crashed over the side, carrying away her mainmast 
too. She then lay-to under close-reefed mizzen. A 
jury mast was rigged on the stump of the foremast, 
and the wind, having veered from W. through 
N.W. to N.E., she was able to set a reefed stay- 
sail. It was still blowing a strong gale, with what 
Lieutenant Lawrie described as a ' mountainous sea ' 
running, and she drifted before the gale in a south- 
west direction towards Ushant, 

In this predicament it was time to get assistance if 
possible, and about 9.15 on the morning of the 9th 
she signalled a large cargo steamer, who endeavoured 
to take Mitchell in tow, but eventually had to signal 
that this was impossible, and continued steaming on 
her way up Channel. The schooner was now about 
ten miles north of Ushant, an anxious position for 
any navigator going to leeward, but Lieutenant 
Lawrie considered she would drift clear. The north- 
east gale showed no sign of easing up during that 
evening. Signals of distress were made, a gun being 
fired every few minutes as well as rocket distress 
signals, and flares were kept burning ; but no answer- 
ing signal came from the shore. By this time the 
schooner was getting dangerously near to Ushant, 
and it could not be long before she and her crew 
would inevitably perish. However, she never struck, 
and at 9.30 p.m. the Norwegian S.S. Sardinia spoke 
her and stood by throughout the terrible night until 
7 a.m. of the 10th. Then ensued a nice piece of sea- 
manship when the steamer lowered into the sea a 
buoy with a small line attached. This Mitchell man- 


aged to pick up, and the tow-line was made fast. 
Sardinia then went ahead and towed her from a 
position 10 miles west (True) of Creach Point until 
11.15 a.m. when near Les Pierres Light. Here a 
French torpedo-boat came towards them, so Lieu- 
tenant Lawrie hoisted the Red Ensign ; but having 
done that he was clever enough also to show the 
White Ensign over the stern and in such a manner 
that the Norwegian was unable to see it. The 
captain of the French torpedo-boat at once under- 
stood, signalled to the Norwegian to cast off and that 
the torpedo-boat would take the schooner in tow. 
This was done at noon, and the Sardinia was informed 
that the name of the ship was the Marij B. Mitchell 
of Beaumaris, Falmouth to Bristol Channel with 
general cargo. It was a clever, ready answer on the 
part of the British captain. The torpedo-boat took 
the schooner into Brest, and at length, after being 
remasted and refitted she went back to carry on her 
work as a Q-ship. I submit that throughout the 
whole of that gale it was a fine achievement, not 
merely to have brought her through in safety, but 
without revealing her identity as a warship. 

A different kind of adventure was now awaiting 
her. During June, 1917, she cruised about first as 
the French Marie Therese, of Cette, then as the 
French Eider, of St. JNIalo, her sphere of operation 
being, as before, in the western end of the English 
Channel, the Bay of Biscay, and near the Channel 
Islands. Mitchell was now fitted with a motor, but 
this was never used during daylight except when abso- 
lutely necessary. It was on the twentieth of that 
month, at 11.30 a.m., that she was in a position 
Lat. 47.13 N., Long. 7.23 W., when she sighted the 
conning-tower of a submarine 3 miles away on the 


port bow. The German began firing, so Mitchell 
was run up into the wind, hove-to, and ' abandoned.' 
By this time the enemy was on the starboard bow 
and continued firing for some time after the schooner's 
boat had left the ship. Unsuspectingly the sub- 
marine came closer and closer, and more and more 
on the beam. Then after a short delay he proceeded 
parallel with the ship, and, altering course, made as if 
to go towards the Mitchell's boat lying away on the 
port quarter. Suddenly he began to fire again, and 
being now not more than 800 yards off and in a suit- 
able position, the schooner also opened fire, the 
first round from the 12-pounder appearing to hit. 
Altogether seventeen rounds were fired, seven seem- 
ing to be direct hits. The enemy did not reply, and 
within three minutes of being hit disappeared. For- 
tunately none of his score of rounds had struck the 
schooner, though they burst overhead in unpleasant 

A further engagement with what was probably the 
same enemy occurred later on the same day. It was 
a favourite tactic for a submarine to follow a ship 
after disappearing for a while, and then, having got 
her hours later in a suitable position, to attack her 
again. I used to hear commanding officers say that 
they had certainly noticed this in regard to their own 
ships, and there are not lacking actual records of these 
methods, especially in the case of the slow-moving 
sailing Q-ships who could be seen across the sea for a 
long time ; and it was part of these tactics to carry 
out this second attack just before night came on. 
Thus at 6.10 p.m., being now in Lat. 47.37 N., Long. 
6.38 W., Mitchell again sighted a submarine, this 
time 4 miles away on the port quarter. The 
schooner kept her course, the submarine overtook 


her, and at 6.35 again shelled the ship. After the 
U-boat had fired half a dozen rapid rounds, Mitchell 
was hove-to and ' abandoned,' the enemy taking up a 
position well out on the port beam and firing until 
the boat was quite clear of the ship. Then the 
German stopped, exactly on the beam, 800 yards 
away, and waited for a long time before making any 
move. Suddenly he turned end on, came full speed 
towards the ship, dived, and when 400 yards away 
showed his periscope on the port side. Having got to 
within 50 yards he went full speed ahead, star- 
boarded his helm, and began to rise quickly. As soon 
as the top of the conning-tower appeared and a couple 
of feet of hull were showing Mitchell cleared away 
and shelled him with the after 6-pounder. This 
seemed to pierce the conning-tower, a large blue 
flash and a volume of yellow vapour coming from the 
hole. Almost simultaneously the 1 2-pounder hit the 
enemy in the bows, but after this the enemy was too 
far forward for the schooner's guns to bear. In a 
cloud of black smoke, yellow smoke, steam, and spray, 
she dived and was not seen again until 8.7 p.m. on 
the surface 5 miles to the westward, just as the 
'panic party' were coming back on board the 
schooner. All speed was made, and the boat towed 
astern on an easterly course for the French coast. 
For a time the submarine followed, but then went off 
to the north-eastward and remained in sight until 
dark. The reader may wonder how a submarine, 
having once been holed, could remain afloat : but 
there are cases of undoubted authenticity where, in 
spite of being seriously injured, the submarine did get 
back to Germany. A remarkable instance of one 
thus damaged by a Q-sailing-ship will be given in a 
later chapter. But in the present case of the Mitchell, 


even if she had not sunk her submarine, she had 
fought two pkicky engagements, in the opinion of the 
Admiralty, and the captain, Lieutenant John Lawrie, 
R.N.R., akeady the possessor of a D.S.C., was now 
awarded the D.S.O. — his two officers. Lieutenant 
John Kerr, R.N.R., and Lieutenant T. Hughes, 
R.N.R., being given eacii a D.S.C. 

On the following August 3, when 20 miles south 
of the Start, Mitchell had yet another engagement. 
She had left Falmouth two days before as the Arius, 
of Riga, then as the French Cancalais, of La Houle, 
and cruised between the Lizard and the Owers, to 
Guernsey, and in the neighbourhood of Ushant. At 
1.45 p.m. she was sailing close-hauled on the star- 
board tack, steering west ; there was a fresh breeze, 
rather a rough sea, and a slight haze. Three miles 
away on the starboard beam appeared a submarine, 
who five minutes later began shelling the schooner. 
Lawrie let his ship fall off the wind, and the shells 
came bursting around, passing through sails and 
rigging, so after ten minutes of this the schooner 
hove- to and ' abandoned ' ship. Slowly and cautiously 
the submarine approached, and when about 3,000 
yards off stopped his engines, but continued to fire. 
Then he came up on the decoy's starboard 
beam, about 1,000 yards away ; but after fifteen 
minutes of shelling from this position, Lawrie de- 
cided that he could tempt the enemy no nearer. 
It was now 4 p.m., so Mitchell started her motor, 
cleared away all disguises, put the helm hard aport, 
and so brought the enemy well on the beam, allowing 
all four guns to bear. Over twenty shells were fired, 
of which three or four hit the base of the conning- 
tower ; but the submarine, having replied with four 
shots, dived, and made off. For two hours and a 


quarter had this engagement been prolonged, and 
the enemy must have been considerably annoyed to 
have wasted seventy of his shells in this manner. 
There was every reason to suppose that he had 
received injuries, and though there were no fatalities 
aboard the schooner, yet the latter's windlass, sails, 
rigging, and deck fittings had been damaged, and 
two of her men had been wounded. Lieutenant 
Lawrie received for this gallant fight a bar to his 
D.S.C., and a similar award was made to Lieutenant 
T. Hughes. 

Such, briefly, was the kind of life that was spent 
month after month in these mystery sailing ships. 
It was an extraordinary mixture of monotony and 
the keenest excitement. From one hour to another 
no man knew whether he would be alive or dead, 
and the one essential thing consisted in absolute pre- 
paredness and mental alertness. To be surprised by 
the enemy was almost criminal ; to escape narrowly 
from shipwreck, to remain unmoved under shell-fire, 
to see the spars crashing down and your shipmates 
laid out in great pain, to be hit and yet refusing 
to hit back until the right moment, to keep a clear 
head and a watchful eye, and all the time handle 
your ship so that the most was got out of the wind 
— all this was a part of your duty as a Q-ship man. 
Officers and men believed that if their Q-ship were 
torpedoed and any of them were captured, they 
would be shot as francs-tireurs. German prisoners 
had not hesitated to make this statement, although 
I do not remember an instance where this was 
carried out. 

There can be no doubt but that these sailing ships 
had the most strenuous and arduous task of all. 
They suffered by being so useful, for the Q-steam- 


ships, as a rule, did not spend more than eight days 
at sea out of twelve, and then they had to come 
in for coal. The schooners, as we have seen, could 
keep the sea for a month, so long as they had 
sufficient water and provisions. Several more were 
added to the list during 1917 and 1918, and there 
was never any lack of volunteers for them. The 
only difficulty was, in these days of steam, in 
choosing those who had had experience in sailing 
craft. The revival of the sailing man-of-war was 
certainly one of the many remarkable features in the 
naval campaign. 



During the ensuing months many demands were 
made on the saiHng-ship man-of-war. There were 
pressed into the service such vessels as the schooner 
Result, the 220-ton lugger JBayard, the three-masted 
schooner Prize, the motor drifter Betsy Jameson, the 
ketch Sarah Colebrooke, the auxiliary schooner Glen 
(alias Sidney), the brigantine Darkle, the Brown 
Mouse yacht, built on the lines of a Brixham trawler, 
and so on. The barquentine Merops, otherwise known 
as Maracaio and Q 28, began decoy work in Feb- 
ruary, 1917. She was fitted out in the Firth of 
Forth with a couple of 12-pounders and a 4-inch 
gun. At the end of May she had a severe engage- 
ment with a submarine, and was considerably damaged 
aloft. In March the 158-ton Rye motor ketch Sarah 
Colebrooke was requisitioned, and sent to Portsmouth 
to be fitted out, appearing in May as the Bolham. 
A month later, 20 miles south of Beachy Head, 
she fought a submarine, and had quite an unpleasant 
time. One of the enemy's shells exploded under the 
port quarter, lifting the ketch's stern high out of the 
water, another exploded under the port leeboard, 
sending a column of water on board, and swamping 
the boat ; whilst a third burst on board, doing con- 
siderable damage. She fought the submarine until 
the latter disappeared, but the Bolham s motor was 



by this time so choked with sphnters and glass that 
she could not proceed to the spot where the sub- 
marine had last been seen, and of course it so hap- 
pened that there was no wind. 

On June 8 four fishing smacks were captured and 
sunk off the Start in full view of the Q-smack 
Prevalent, a Brixham trawler armed with a 12- 
pounder. Again it happened to be a calm, so 
Prevalent, being too far away, was unable to render 
assistance. After this incident it was decided to fit an 
auxiliary motor in the trawler-yacht Brown Mouse, 
which was doing similar service and was specially 
suitable for an engine. On the following day our 
friend Helgoland had another encounter, this time 
off the north coast of Ireland, the exact spot being 
8 miles N. by W. of Tory Island. The fight began 
at 7.25 a.m., and half an hour later the submarine 
obtained a direct hit on the after-gun house of the 
brigantine, killing one man, wounding four ratings, 
and stunning the whole of the after-guns' crews. 
But Helgoland, with her charmed life, w^as not sunk, 
and she shelled the submarine so fiercely that the 
U-boat had to dive and disappear. 

Even a private yacht was taken up for this work 
in June. This was the 116-ton topsail schooner 
IJsette, which had formerly belonged to the Duke of 
Sutherland. She had been built as far back as 1873 
with a standing bowsprit and jibboom. She was 
taken from Cowes to Falmouth, where she was 
commissioned in August, and armed with three 
G-pounders. But this old yacht was found to leak so 
much through her seams, and her construction was 
so light, that she was never a success, and was paid 
off in the following spring. In April, 1917, the 
auxiliary schooner Sidney (alias Glen) began service 


as a decoy, having been requisitioned from her 
owners and fitted out at Portsmouth. A crew was 
selected from the Trawler Reserve, but the guns' 
crews were naval. Armed with a 12-pounder and 
a 3-pounder, she was fitted with wireless, and cruised 
about in the English Channel, her complement con- 
sisting of Lieutenant R. J. TurnbuU (R.N.R.), in 
command, one sub-lieutenant (R.N.R.), one skipper 
(R.N.R.), two R.N.R. seamen, one R.N.R. stoker to 
run the motor, a signal rating, a wireless operator, 
four R.N. ratings for the big gun, and three for the 
smaller one. During the afternoon of July 10, 1917, 
Glen was in combat with a submarine of the UC 
type, and had lowered her boat in the customary 
manner. A German officer from the conning-tower 
hailed the boat, and in good English ordered her to 
come alongside. This was being obeyed, when some- 
thing seemed to startle the officer, who suddenly dis- 
appeared into the conning-tower, and the submarine 
began to dive. Glen therefore opened fire, and 
distinctly saw two holes abaft the conning-tower as 
the UC-boat rolled in the swell. She was not seen 
again, and the Admiralty rewarded Glens captain 
and Sub-Lieutenant K. Morris, R.N.R., with a 
D.S.C. each. 

During the month of January, 1917, the naval base 
at Lowestoft called for volunteers for work described 
as ' dangerous, at times rather monotonous, and not 
free from discomfort.' Everyone, of course, knew 
that this meant life in a Q-ship. The vessel selected 
was the 122-ton three-masted topsail schooner Result, 
which was owned at Barnstaple, and had in Decem- 
ber come round to Lowestoft from the Bristol 
Channel. Here she was fitted out and commissioned 
at the beginning of February, being armed with a 


couple of 12-poiinders, but also with torpedo-tubes. 
As a sailing craft she was slow, unhandy, and prac- 
tically unmanageable in light winds. At the best 
she would lie no nearer to the wind than 5h points, 
and in bad weather she was like a half-tide rock. 
True, she had a Bolinders motor, but the best speed 
they could thus get out of her was 2^ knots. The 
result was that her officers had great difficulty in 
keeping her out of the East Coast minefields, and did 
not always succeed. She took in 100 tons of sand 
as ballast, and a rough cabin was fashioned out 
of the hold for the two officers. In command was 
appointed Lieutenant P. J. Mack, R.N. (retired), 
a young officer who had seen service at the Dardanelles 
in the battleship Lord Nelson and in the historic 
River Clyde, whence he had been invalided home. 
As he was not an expert in the art of sailing, there 
was selected to accompany him as second in command 
Lieutenant G. H. P. Muhlhauser, R.N.R., who was 
not a professional seaman, but a keen amateur yachts- 
man of considerable experience, who had made some 
excellent cruises in his small yacht across the North 
Sea and had passed the Board of Trade examination 
as master of his own yacht. The sailing master who 
volunteered was an ex-schooner sailor, and her mate 
also was an old blue-water seaman. The motor man 
was a motor mechanic out of one of the Lowestoft 
M.L.'s, and there was a trimmer from the Trawler 
Reserve. She carried also a wireless operator, a 
cook, a chief petty officer, deckhands, and some 
Royal Naval ratings for the armament. All the 
crew, consisting of twenty-two, had seen considerable 
service during the war in various craft, and one of the 
deckhands was in the drifter Linsdell, which was 
blown up on an East Coast minefield at the commence- 


ment of the war. He had been then picked up by 
H.M.S. Speedy, who in turn was immediately blown 
up. This man survived again, and was now a volunteer 
in a Q-ship. Remlfs crew were trained to go to 
their ' panic stations ' at the given signal, when the 
bulwarks were let down and the tarpaulins removed 
from the guns, the engineer on those occasions 
standing at the hatchway amusingly disguised as a 
woman passenger, arrayed in a pink blouse and 
a tasselled cap which had been kindly provided by a 
lady ashore. 

On February 9 Result was all ready as a warship, 
and motored out of Lowestoft. She then disguised 
herself as a neutral, affixed Dutch colours to her 
topsides, and proceeded via Yarmouth Roads to the 
neighbourhood of the North Hinder, the other side 
of the North Sea, where the enemy was very fond 
of operating. On the fifteenth of the following 
month Result was cruising off the south-west end of 
the Dogger Bank when she encountered UC 45 in 
the morning. Lieutenant Muhlhauser, who was kind 
enough to give me his account of the incident, has 
described it with such vividness that I cannot do 
better than present the version in his own words. It 
should be added that at the time Result was steer- 
ing E.S.E., and was now in the position Lat. 54.19 N., 
Long. 1.45 E. The submarine was sighted 2\ miles 
astern, the wind was northerly, force 5 to 6, the sea 
being 4 to 5 and rapidly rising. In other words, it 
was a nasty, cold North Sea day, and one in which 
it would have been most unpleasant to have been 
torpedoed. The engagement was a difficult one, 
as the ship had to be manceuvred so that her guns 
would bear, and careful seamanship had to be used to 
prevent her lying in the trough of the sea. As it 



was, with bulwarks down, the decks and gun-wells 
were awash and frequently full of water, while the 
submarine, being only occasionally visible when 
Result was on the top of the sea, made a target that 
was anything but easy. 

' By 7 a.m.,' says Lieutenant Muhlhauser, 'we had 
got all the topsails off her, and at this moment the 
C.O. appeared on deck and, looking aft, said, " Why, 
there is a submarine !" and at the same moment it 
was reported from aloft. Word was passed to the 
watches below to stand by. In a few minutes came 
the report of a gun. I do not know where the shell 
went. The men ran to their stations, or crawled 
there according to what their job was, and the ship 
was brought on the wind. The submarine continued 
firing at the rate of a shell every minute or there- 
abouts. The C.O. then ordered the jibs to be run 
down, and while this was being done a shell stranded 
the foretopmast forestay, but luckily did not burst. 
It went off whistling. Some of the shells were fairly 
well aimed, but the bulk were either 50 or 60 yards 
short or over, and at times more than that. As the 
submarine kept about 2,000 yards off, tlie C.O. 
ordered the boat away, with the skipper in charge. 
Four hands went with him. Fle was reluctant to 
go, I think, though, as a matter of fact, he ran quite 
as much risk as did those remaining on board, if not 
more, as he would have been in an awkward position 
if by any chance the ship worked away from him and 
the submarine got him. It would have been a hard 
job to persuade the submariners that he was anything 
but British. However, off he went in a nasty sea. 
In lowering the boat we made efforts to capsize her, 
but she was difficult to upset, and as the sub. was 
some way off and unlikely to see the " accident," we 


did not waste much time on it, but let her go down 
right side up. Away went the skipper and his crew, 
and he admits feeHng lonely with a hostile submarine 
near by and the ship and her guns working away 
from him. He says he was struck wdth the beauty 
of her lines, and she never appeared more attractive 
to him. As a matter of fact, his was a rotten position, 
which was not improved by the sub. firing at him two 
or three shells, which went over and short. Evidently 
the submarine, which by the way had closed to 1,000 
yards as soon as the boat left the ship, wanted him 
to pull towards it, instead of which he was digging 
out after us manfully. INIeanwhile the ship appeared 
quite deserted. Everyone was concealed. The CO. 
prowled around the deck on his hands and knees, 
peering through cracks and rivet holes in the bulwarks 
to see how the submarine was getting on. All I 
could see of him was the stern position of his body 
and the soles of an enormous pair of clogs. I sat on 
deck at the wheel, trying to get and keep the ship in 
the wind, so as not to get too far from the boat. All 
this time the submarine was firing steadily, and one 
shell went through the mizzen, while others, as the 
CO. reported from time to time, burst short, some 
of them close. Splinters from the latter went through 
the stay- and fore-sails. At 1,000 yards the ship is a 
fairly big target, and tlie shooting of the Huns must 
be put down as bad. 

' It is all very well serving as a target at 1,000 yards, 
but it is an experience which must not be too long 
continued in case a lucky shot disables one. In the 
present case, moreover, the wind and sea were rapidly 
increasing, and we were leaving the boat in spite of 
all our efforts to stop. The submarine seemed quite 
determined not to come any nearer, and the CO. 


decided that the moment had come for our side to 
begin. Just before this one of the bulwarks, luckily 
on the side away from the sub., had fallen down, and 
let a deluge of water on to the decks, but this did not 
affect things as far as we know. 

' At the word, down fell the bulwarks, round came 
the guns, and up went the White Ensign. Only the 
after 12-pounder gun would bear. The first shell 
struck the submarine at the junction of the conning- 
tower and deck forward. The 6-pounder also fired 
one shell, and hit the conning-tower. The second 
shell from the big gun burst short. By the time the 
smoke had cleared away the submarine had dis- 
appeared. Had we sunk her or had she dipped ? 
This is the point which is exercising our minds. The 
CO. thinks the evidence of sinking her is not con- 
clusive, but most of us think she has gone down for 

' We then made for the boat, which was still 
labouring after us, and got it hooked on and hoisted. 
There was quite a decent-sized sea, and the hoisting 
process was not very pleasant for those left in to 
hook on, not to mention that they got wet from the 

' At the time the sub. was firing, one of the officers 
or crew was standing on the conning-tower rails, 
probably spotting for the gunners. He was there 
when the first shell struck, but was not noticed after- 
wards. Very likely he had fallen into the tower, but 
he may have fallen into the water. 

* We certainly gave them a lesson in gunnery, 
two hits out of three shots. Compare that with 
their performance. Moreover, our guns had to be 
swung into position, while theirs was already pointed. 

' Having picked up the boat, we made for the 


spot where the sub. had disappeared, but could not 
be sure that we had reached it. Anyway, we saw no 
traces of it. We did not spend much time in search- 
ing, but put the ship back on her course. The wind 
and sea were by this time strong and lieavy, and 
after running out for half an hour we turned and 
headed west, with the idea of being near shelter if a 
north-east gale, which I had predicted, came along. 
As a matter of fact it did not, and my reputation as 
a weather-prophet is tarnished. Our alteration of 
course was made solely from weather conditions, but 
it must have seemed very suspicious to a second 
submarine which now arrived on the scene, and 
which had probably been chasing us without our 
knowing it. Instead of it chasing us, it suddenly 
found us coming to meet it, and must have been 
puzzled. By way of clearing the air it fired a torpedo 
from a distance of about 2,000 yards, and missed us 
by about 200 yards — a bad effort. It then fired three 
shells at us, which also went wide. There is no doubt 
that this was another, and smaller, submarine from 
the first, but we did not grasp this at first, and so 
without more ado we let drive at it, but unluckily 
the gun missed fire twice. Fleet then opened the 
breech, at some risk to himself, and drew out the 
cartridge and threw it away. But this wasted time, 
and when he did fire the shell went short. The 
submarine had taken advantage of the pause to get 
ready to dive, and did not wait for another shot, but 
went under as soon as we fired. 

' It was no use waiting about, as we should very 
likely have been torpedoed, so we went on towards 
the land. 

' And so ended what the skipper calls the " Battle 
of the Silver Pit," from the name of the fishing 


ground where it took place. As far as it went it 
was satisfactory, but we should like to be sure that 
w'e sank the first. The two engagements took about 
two hours. Possibly by waiting we might have done 
better, but, on the other hand, we might have done 

It was eventually known that the first submarine 
was UC 45, who paid the Result the compliment 
of describing this ship's gunfire as well-controlled. 
She got back safely to Germany. For the manner 
in which the fighting had been conducted. Lieutenant 
JNIack and the skipper were both mentioned in 

After the return to Lowestoft, Result was altered 
in appearance and was sent off to the area where this 
encounter had taken place. This time she used 
Swedish colours, and called herself the l^ag. On this 
voyage, whilst in the vicinity north of the North 
Hinder Bank, on April 4, about 4 a.m., a submarine 
w^as seen on the port bow, but disappeared. It was 
so big that at first it resembled a steamer or destroyer. 
Presently a periscope was seen about 4 points on 
the bow, resembling a topmast, as it had a rake. 
The lower portion was about 6 inches in diameter, 
and a narrower stem protruded from this, terminating 
in a ball, and whilst officers and crew w^atched it, 
wondering whether it was the mast of a wreck or 
not, it slowly dipped and vanished. This was the 
submarine in the act of taking a photograph. She 
then retired to a distance convenient for shelling. 
There was a light westerly breeze, and the enemy 
now bobbed up at intervals all round the Dag, 
examining her very carefully. Lieutenant Muhl- 
hauser writes of this incident : 

' Then followed a pause of nearly half an hour with- 


out our seeing anything of him. The cook was sent 

to the galley to get on with breakfast and we started 

the engine. It is hardly necessary to say that as it 

was particularly wanted i.t ran very badly, and, 

indeed, could hardly be kept going at all. Suddenly 

a shell burst near us, followed by another and 

another. We could not at first tell the direction 

from which they came, and thought it was from 

astern, but found that the submarine had cunningly 

moved away towards the sun, and had emerged 

in the mist behind the path of the sun, where he 

was practically invisible from our ship, while we 

were lit up and must have offered a splendid target 

with our white hull and sails. His shooting was very 

good, and none of the shells missed us by much. 

He fired rapidly, and was probably using a 4*1 -inch 

semi-automatic s^un. The shells all burst on striking 

• • • 

the water, and the explosions had a vicious sound. 

They seemed to come at a terrific speed, suggesting 
a high- velocity gun. The CO. calmly walked the 
deck, the skipper took the wheel, and I sat at the top 
of the cabin hatchway and noted the times and 
numbers of shells fired and anything else of interest. 
The rest of the crew were at their stations, but keep- 
ing below the bulwarks, except those who launched 
the boat and let it tow astern. The eleventh shell 
struck us just above the water-line, and soused us all 
with spray which flew up above the peak of the 
mainsail. It tore a hole in the side and burst in 
the sand ballast, reducing the skipper's cabin to 
matchwood, and destroying the wireless instrument. 
It also knocked down the sides of the magazine and 
set fire to the wood, starting some of the rockets 
smouldering. It also smashed up the patent fire 
extinguishers, and possibly the fumes from these 


prevented the fire from spreading. Anyway, it was 
out when we had time to see what was happening. 

' In the meantime we could not afford to be hit 
again, and the CO. gave the word to open fire. 
Down went the bulwarks and round swung the guns, 
but where was the target ? Hidden in the mist 
behind the sun's path it was invisible to the gun-layers 
looking through telescopes, and they were obliged to 
fire into the gloom at a venture. The poor little 
6-pounder was quite outranged, and it is doubtful 
if the shells went more than two-thirds of the way. 
The other guns had suflficient range, but it was 
impossible to judge the distance or observe the fall 
of the shots. However, they made a glorious and 
cheering noise, and Fritz dived as soon as he could. 
There is not the least reason for thinking that we 
hit him. The skipper, deceived by the low freeboard 
revealed when the bulwarks were down, at this stage 
quickly announced the conviction that she was 
sinking. Smoke was also pouring out of the hatches, 
and we had two wounded men to see to : Ryder, 
who was in the magazine and who was hit in the 
arm, sustaining a compound fracture, and Morris, 
also in the magazine, bruised in the back and suffer- 
ing from shock. We were not, therefore, in a position 
to continue the battle, and things looked a bit blue. 
Fritz might be expected to be along in a few minutes 
submerged, and he would have little difficulty in 
torpedoing us, as we were very nearly a stationary 
target. We had no means of warding him off except 
by a depth charge. That might inconvenience him, 
but it would hardly delay him long, and he could 
then either torpedo us or retire out of range of our 
guns and pound us to pieces, as his gun had a range 
of about 5,000 yards more than ours. Sure enough 


he was soon after us, as we crawled along at our 
4-knot gait, and raised his periscope right astern 
about 200 yards off. 

' We then slung over a depth charge, and had just 
got our 10- feet clearance when it went off, and made 
quite a creditable stir for a little 'un. Fritz promptly 
disappeared to think things over, and we were 
relieved of the sight of the sinister-looking periscope. 
But we had only delayed things a little. He would 
soon recover and adopt fresh tactics. Still, for ten 
minutes we should have peace to attend to our 
wounded and the damage. The CO. supervised the 
bandaging of Ryder, who had been lying on deck 
since he had been drawn out of the magazine. I had 
passed him — passed over him, in fact — once or twice in 
going forward, and thought he was dead, as he lay so 
still. Then the hole in the side wanted attention, 
and also the fire below. Just then the look-outs 
reported the Halcyon* and two P-boats ahead coming 
our way. We were extremely glad to hear them 
shout out, as it meant all the difference between 
being sunk and not being sunk. When the skipper 
had called out " She is sinking, sir," I thought of the 
number our little boat would hold, and the number 
of the crew, and had reflected that my number 
was up. The arrival of the Halcyon and her 
attendants put a different complexion on things, and 
while efforts were being made by guns to attract 
their attention, I set about plugging our hole and 
trying to find the fire. 

' Stringer warned me that he had tried to get 
below, but had found the fumes too much. By the 
time I got there they must have cleared, as I did not 
find them too bad. The place was full of smoke, but 

* H.M.S. Halcyon, torpedo-gunboat, 1,070 tons. 


though I pulled things about blindly, as it was im- 
possible to see anything, I could not see any glow to 
indicate a fire. Ultimately I did see a light, but on 
making for it I found it was Dawes and an electric 
Mght. He had entered from the mess-deck. There 
appearing to be no immediate danger from fire, I 
crawled round to the shot-hole and found water 
coming in through rivet holes. 'I'he main hole had 
been plugged from the outside by two coal-bags and 
a shot-hole plug. I got tools and cut up some wood, 
while AVreford cut up a coal-bag into 6-inch squares. 
These Dawes and I hammered home, and made her 
fairly tight. 

' Meanwhile great efforts were being made to com- 
municate with the Halcyon, to let them know that a 
submarine was about, and to ask for a doctor. We 
could not get the Halciion, but one of the P-boats 
came rushing by at full speed, and asked where we 
were from ! They had not recognized us ! We could 
get nothing out of these ships. They rushed about 
the horizon at full speed and disappeared into the 
mist and came out of it again somewhere else, but 
generally kept away from us, though occasionally a 
P-boat tore past going " all out." 

' While this circus was going on, a number ot 
T.B.D.'s were reported on our starboard quarter, and 
three light cruisers and then T.B.D.'s swept into 
sight and seemed to fill the whole horizon. They 
went on, ignoring our request for a doctor, and dis- 
appeared in the mist, but their place was taken by 
other T.B.D.'s. The place seemed full of them. 
AVhere they all came from 1 do not know, or what 
they were doing, but everywhere one looked one 
could see some of these beautiful vessels rushing 
along. It was a fine, stirring sight. Finally we got 


one of them to stop and lower a whaler with a doctor. 
While she was stopped her companion ships steamed 
round to ward oif attack. The doctor came on board, 
and decided that Ryder ought to go in at once, and 
the T.B.D. Torrent agreed to take him in when asked 
by signal. So away went poor Ryder in great pain, 
I fear, in spite of two morphia pills which we gave 
him. The CO. was afraid that we had given him 
too much, but one did not seem to do him much 
good, so we gave him another one. 

' While we were transshipping him, the Halcyon 
came tearing past, and shouted that there was a 
hostile submarine 3 miles to the southward. This, 
however, did not worry us with all these T.B.D. 's 
around. We were in a scene of tremendous, even 
feverish, activity. There were sweepers, T.B.D. 's, 
P-boats, and our own submarines all about. At 
6 a.m. the world held us and a very nasty, large, 
hostile submarine, which could both outrange and 
outmanoeuvre us, and the game seemed up. At 
6.30 a.m. we were as safe as one could wish to be, 
with a considerable portion of England's light forces 
around us. " Some change !" ' 



In order properly to appreciate the difficulties of the 
Q-ships, it is necessary to understand something of 
the possibilities and limitations of the U-boats. No 
one could hope to be successful with his Q-ship 
unless he realized what the submarine could not do, 
and how he could attack the U-boat in her weakest 
feature. If the submarine's greatest capability lay 
in the power of rendering herself invisible, her greatest 
weakness consisted in remaining thus submerged for a 
comparatively short time. On the surface she could 
do about 16 knots; submerged, her best speed was 
about 10 knots. As the heart is the vital portion of 
the human anatomy, so the battery was the vital 
part of the submarine's invisibility. At the end of a 
couple of hours, at the most, it was as essential for her 
to rise to the surface, open her hatches, and charge 
her batteries as it is for a whale or a porpoise to come 
up and breathe. It was the aim, then, of all anti- 
submarine craft to use every endeavour to keep the 
U-boat submerged as long as possible. Those 
Q-ships who could steam at 10 knots and over had a 
good chance then of following the submarine's sub- 
merged wake and despatching her with depth charges. 
If she elected not to dive, there was nothing for it 
but to tempt her within range and bearing of your 
guns and then shell her. To ram was an almost 



impossible task, though more than one submarine 
was in this way destroyed. 

The difficulty of anti-submarine warfare was in- 
creased when the enemy became so wary that he 
preferred to remain shelling the ship at long range, 
and this led to our Q-ships having to be armed with 
at least one 4-inch against his 4-1 -inch gun. The 
famous Arnauld de la Periere, who, in spite of his 
semi-French ancestry, was the ablest German sub- 
marine captain in the Mediterranean, was especially 
devoted to this form of tactics. Most of the German 
submarines were double-hulled, the space between 
the outer and inner hulls being occupied by water 
ballast and oil fuel. The conning-tower was literally 
a superstructure imposed over the hull, and not an 
essential part of the ship. That is why, as we have 
already seen, the Q-ship could shell holes into the 
tower and yet the U-boat was not destroyed. 
Similarly, a shell would often pierce the outer hull 
and do no very serious damage other than causing a 
certain amount of oil to escape. Only those who 
have been in British and German submarines, and 
have seen a submarine under construction, realize 
what a strong craft she actually is. 

The ideal submarine would weigh about the same 
amount as the water surrounding her. That being a 
practical impossibility, before she submerges she is 
trimmed down by means of water ballast, but then 
starts her engines and uses her planes for descent in 
the same way as an aeroplane. The flooding tanks, 
as we have seen, are between the two hulls, and the 
hydroplanes are in pairs both forward and aft. The 
U-boat has been running on the surface propelled by 
her internal-combustion motors. Obviously these 
cannot be used when she is submerged, or the air in 




the ship would speedily be used up. When about to 
submerge, the German captain trimmed his ship 
until just afloat ; actually he frequently cruised in 
this trim when in the presence of shipping, ready to 
dive if attacked. The alarm was then pressed, the 
engineer pulled out the clutch, the coxswain con- 
trolling the forward hydroplane put his helm down, 
the captain entered the conning-tower, the hatch was 
closed, and away the steel fish cruised about beneath 
the surface. 

The U-boat was now running on her electric 
batteries. By means of two periscopes a view was 
obtained not merely of the sea above, but also of 
the sky, so that surface craft and aircraft might be 
visible. The order would be given to submerge to 
say 10 metres. Alongside each of the two coxswains 
was a huge dial marked in metres, and it was the 
sole duty of these two men to watch the dials, and 
by operating a big wheel controlling each hydroplane 
maintain the submarine at such a depth. Horizontal 
steering was done also by a wheel, and course 
kept by means of a gyroscope compass, a magnetic 
compass in this steel ship with so much electricity 
about being out of the question. The batteries were 
charged while the submarine was on the surface by 
turning the oil engines into a dynamo by means of 
the clutch, the hour before dawn and the hour after 
sunset being favourable times for so charging. 

The reader will have noted the preliminary methods 
of attack on the part of the submarine and his manner 
of varying his position. He divided his attack into 
two. The first was the approach, the second was the 
attack proper. The former was made at a distance 
of 12,000 yards, and during this time he was using 
his high-power, long-range periscope, manoeuvring into 


position, and ascertaining the course and speed of the 
on-coming Q-ship. The attack proper was made 
at 800 or 400 yards, and for this purpose the short- 
range periscope was used. Now watch the U-boat 
in his attempt to kill. He is to rely this time not 
on long-range shelling, but on the knock-out blow by 
means of his torpedo : he has endeavoured, therefore, 
to get about four points on the Q-ship's bow, for this 
is the very best position, and he has dived to about 
00 feet. During the approach his torpedo-tubes have 
been got ready, the safety-pins have been removed, 
and the bow caps of the tubes opened. The captain 
has already ascertained the enemy's speed and the 
deflection or angle at which the torpedo-tube must 
point ahead of the Q-ship at the moment of firing. 
AVhen the enemy bears the correct number of degrees 
of deflection the tube is fired, the periscope lowered, 
speed increased, and, if the torpedo has hit the 
Q-ship, the concussion will be felt in the submarine. 
This depends entirely on whether the Q-ship's speed 
and course have been accurately ascertained. The 
torpedo has travelled at a speed of 36 knots, so, 
knowing the distance to be run, the captain has only 
to look at his stop-watch and reckon the time when 
his torpedo should have hit. If the German was 
successful he usually hoisted his periscope and cruised 
under the stern of the ship to obtain her name. If 
he were an experienced officer he never came near 
her, after torpedoing, unless he was quite certain she 
was abandoned and that she was not a trap. During 
1917 and onwards, having sunk the Q-ship, the 
submarine would endeavour to take the captain 
prisoner, and one Q-ship captain, whose ship sank 
underneath him, found himself swimming about and 
heard the U-boat's officer shouting to the survivors, 


' Vere is der kapitan V but the men had the good 
sense to He and pretend their skipper was dead. 
After this the submarine shoved oft", and my friend 
took refuge with others in a small raft. But fre- 
quently a submarine would wait a considerable time 
cruising round the sinking ship, scrutinizing her, 
examining the fittings, and expecting to find badly 
hinged bulwarks, a carelessly fitted wireless aerial, 
a suspicious move of a ' deckhouse ' or piece of 
tarpaulin hiding the gun. This was the suspense 
which tried the nerves of most Q-ship crews, especially 
when it was followed by shelling. 

We have seen that the U-boat sought to disguise 
herself by putting up a sail when in the vicinity of 
fishing craft or patrol vessels. The submarine which 
torpedoed one ship disguised her periscope by a soap 
box, so that it was not realized till too late that this 
innocent-looking box was floating against the tide. 
At the best the submarine was an unhandy craft, 
and it took her from three to six minutes to make a 
big alteration of course, inasmuch as she had to dive 
deeper lest she should break surface or disturb the 
surface of the water. Again, when running sub- 
merged, if she wished to turn 16 points — e.g., from 
north to south— the pressure on her hull made it 
very difficult. 

It may definitely be stated that those who went 
to their doom in U-boats had no pleasant death. 
When the Q-ship caused the enemy to be holed so 
that he could not rise and the water poured in, this 
water, as it moved forward in the submarine, was all 
the time compressing the air, and those of the crew 
who had not already committed suicide suffered 
agonies. Moreover, even if a little of the sea got 
into the bilges where the batteries were placed there 


was trouble also. Sea-water in contact with the 
sulphuric acid generated chlorine, a very deadly gas, 
which asphyxiated the crew. There is at least one 
case on record of a U-boat surrendering to a patrol 
boat in consequence of his crew having become 
incapacitated by this gas ; and on pulling up the 
floorboards of a British submarine, one has noticed 
the chlorine smell very distinctly. The dropping by 
the decoy ship of depth charges sometimes totally 
destroyed the submarine, but even if this was not 
accomplished straight away, it had frequently a most 
salutary effect : for, at the least, it would start some 
of the U-boat's rivets, smash all the electric bulbs in 
the ship, and put her in total darkness. The nasty 
jar which this and the explosion gave to the sub- 
marine's crew had a great moral effect. A month's 
cruise in a submarine in wintry Atlantic weather, 
hunted and chased most of the way from Heligoland 
to the Fastnet and back, is calculated to try any 
human nerves : but to be depth-charged periodically, 
or surprised and shelled by an innocent-looking tramp 
or schooner, does not improve the enthusiasm of the 
men. Frequently it happened that the decoy ship's 
depth charges merely put the hydroplanes out of gear 
so that they jammed badly. The U-boat would then 
make a crash-dive towards the bottom. At 100 feet 
matters became serious, at 200 feet they became 
desperate ; and presently, owing to pressure, the hull 
would start buckling and leaking. Then, by sheer 
physical strength, the hydroplanes had to be coaxed 
hard over, and then up would come the U-boat to 
the surface, revealing herself, and an easy prey for 
the Q-ship's guns, who would finish her off in a few 
fierce minutes. Life in a U-boat was no picnic, but 
death was the worst form of torture, and such as could 



be conveyed to the imagination only by means of a 
Theatre Guignol play. 

It was the obvious duty of the Q-ships to make 
the life of a U-boat as nearly as possible unbearable, 
and thus save the lives of our ships and men of the 
Mercantile Marine. It was no easy task, and even 
with perfect organization, well-thought-out tactics, 
and well-trained crews, it would happen that some- 
thing would rob the decoy of her victory. On 
October 20, 1916, for instance, the Q-ship Salvia, 
one of the sloop-class partially reconstructed w4th a 
false counter-stern to resemble a 1,000-ton tramp, 
was off the west coast of Ireland when a submarine 
appeared astern, immediately opened fire, and began 
to chase. Salvia stopped her engines to allow the 
enemy to close more rapidly, but the U-boat, ob- 
serving this, hauled out on to the Salvia's starboard 
quarter, and kept up her firing without shortening 
the range of 2,000 yards. Salvia next endeavoured 
to close the range by going slow ahead and altering 
slightly towards the enemy, but the latter's fire was 
now becoming so accurate that Salvia was soon hit 
on the starboard side by a 4*1 -inch high-explosive 
shell. This burst through in nine places in the 
engine-room bulkhead, smashing an auxiliary steam- 
pipe and causing a large escape of steam. The 
engines were now put full ahead, and course was 
made for the enemy, who sheered away and shortly 
afterwards dived. 

That being so. Salvia deemed it prudent to pretend 
to run away, but in the middle of the evolution her 
steering gear unfortunately broke down, and before 
control was established again with hand-steering gear, 
the ship had swung 90 degrees past her course, and 
the submarine reappeared on the port beam about 


1,500 yards away, but presently disappeared. The 
breakdown had been most unfortunate, for otherwise 
a short, sharp action at about 700 yards would have 
been possible, followed by an excellent chance of 
dropping a depth charge very close to the enemy. 
In that misty weather, with a rough sea and a fairly 


s/m reappeareJ^^ 

s/Mdisafpearsd ^ 

y« reappeared 

Fig. 7. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of 
' Salvia ' in her Action with Submarine on October 20, 1916. 

strong breeze, it had been difficult to see any part of 
the U-boat's hull, for she had trimmed herself so as to 
have little buoyancy, and only her conning- tower could 
be discerned. Below, in the Q-ship, the engine-room 
staff found themselves up against difficulties ; for it 
was an awkward job repairing the leaking steam-pipe, 


as the cylinder tops and the engine-room were full of 
live steam and lyddite fumes. The chief artificer and 
a leading stoker were overcome by the fumes, but 
the job was tackled so that steam could be kept up 
in the boilers. 

A few months later Salvia (alias Q 15) ended her 
career. Just before seven o'clock on the morning of 
June 20,1917, when in Lat. 52.15 N., Long. 16.10 W.— 
that is to say, well out in the Atlantic — she was struck 
on the starboard side abreast the break of the poop 
by a submarine's torpedo. Troubles did not come 
singly, for this caused the depth charge aft to explode 
by concussion, completely wrecking the poop, blowing 
the 4-inch gun overboard, and putting the engines 
totally out of action. Here was a nice predicament 
miles from the Irish coast. At 7.15 a.m., as the after 
part of the ship was breaking up, her captain sent 
away in the boats all the ship's company except the 
crews of the remaining guns and others required in 
case the ship should be saved. The submarine now 
began to shell Salvia heavily from long range, taking 
care to keep directly astern. The shells fell close to 
the boats, so these were rowed farther to the eastward. 
A shell then struck the wheelhouse and started a fire, 
which spread rapidly to the upper bridge. It was 
now time for the remainder of the crew to leave in 
Carley rafts, and temporarily the submarine ceased 
fire ; but when one boat started to go back to the 
ship the enemy at once reopened his attack. He 
then closed the rafts and took prisoner Salvia's captain, 
who arrived safely in Germany, and was released 
at the end of the war. At 9.15 a.m. the ship sank, 
and ten minutes later the submarine disappeared. 
Thus Salvia's people were suddenly bereft of ship 
and skipper, with the broad Atlantic to row about 


in, boisterous weather, and a heavy sea. The boat 
which had endeavoured to return to the ship then 
proceeded to search for the men in the Carley rafts, 
but could see nothing of them. After about an hour 
this boat sighted what looked like a tramp steamer, 
so hoisted sail and ran down to meet her. At 1 1.20 a.m. 
this steamer picked them up : she happened to be 
another disguised sloop, the Q-ship Aubrietia, com- 
manded by Admiral Marx, a gallant admiral who 
had come back to sea from his retirement, and as 
Captain, R.N.R., was now taking a hand in the great 
adventure. Search was then made, and within two 
hours the men in the rafts were picked up, and a 
little later the other three boat-loads were located : 
but five men had been killed, three by the first 
explosion in Salvia and two by shell-fire. It had 
been a sad, difficult day. 

In the Mediterranean the enemy was showing an 
increased caution against likely decoys, and by the 
beginning of December, 1916, had already sunk a 
couple of Q-ships. The Q-ship Saros ( Lieut. - 
Commander R. C. C. Smart) was operating in this 
sea, and had an engagement on October 30, thirteen 
miles from Cape San Sebastian. The engine-room 
was ordered to make smoke, as though the stokers 
were endeavouring to get the utmost speed out of the 
ship : at the same time the engines were rung 
down to ' slow.' But the enemy realized the ruse and 
slowed down, too. Lieut. -Commander Smart en- 
deavoured to make the enemy think a panic had 
seized the ship. So the firemen off* watch were sent 
below to put on lifebelts and then to man the boats. 
Stewards ran about, placing stores and blankets in 
the boats, but the enemy insisted on shelling, so 
Saros had to do the same, whereupon the submarine's 


guns' crews made a bolt for the inside of the U-boat, 
and then made off. As soon as she had got out of 
sight, Sm'os changed her disguise, taking the two white 
bands off the funnel, hoisting Spanish colours, and 
altering course for the Spanish coast. 

Three days later iSa70s was returning to the Gib- 
raltar-Malta shipping track, heading for the Cani 
Rocks, after carrying out firing exercises. At half- 
past four in the afternoon, the officer of the watch 
heard a shot, and saw a submarine 7,000 yards off 
on the starboard beam. She was not trimmed for 
diving, and was apparently trimmed to cruise like 
this during the night on the surface. She seemed 
quite careless and slow about her movements, evidently 
never suspecting Saras' true character. Saros altered 
course towards the enemy, who was firing all the time, 
one round exploding and falling on board and several 
coming close over the bridge. The U-boat, after going 
on an opposite course, very slowly turned to starboard 
to get on a parallel course, and men were seen hoisting 
up ammunition on deck. The light was bad, and it 
was becoming late, but Scwos had manoeuvred to get 
the German in a suitable position as regards the sun, 
so at 5,500 yards range opened fire with her 4-inch 
and 12-pounder at 4.44 p.m. This shocked the 
Teuton, so that the crew which had been sitting 
around smoking, and apparently criticizing the old 
' merchantman,' suddenly became active, lowered the 
wireless masts and disappeared below. By the tenth 
round, the enemy, who appeared to have been hit, 
dived, and at 4.50 p.m. Saros ceased fire. Course 
was then altered to where she had last been seen, and, 
just before turning, the enemy for a moment showed 
himself, but as the gun -layer was ready the German 
disappeared, and then artfully cruised about sub- 


merged, so as to get in a good position. She was never 
seen again, but at 5.15 p.m. a torpedo passed just 
ahead of the Scwos, and thereafter the latter zigzagged 
at her utmost speed. During the night there was a 


s/m first seen 

Z^" Course S. 


• 'Cease fire 4- SO 
range on guns 6300i)as. 




\\ Torpedo passed 
f dose dhcsdoF ship 

Opened fire 4 44. 

S/M First seen 
sbout 7000 


Fig. 8. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of 'Saros 
IN HER Action with Submarine on November 3, 1916. 

moon until midnight, and an anxious time was spent. 
Owing to tlie amount of sea, Saros was not doing 
more than 8 J knots, but no further attack took place. 
It had been one able captain against another, and no 
actual result had been made. So the warfare went 


on in the Mediterranean. Baralong, now called 
Wyaiidra, who had been sent to the Mediterranean, 
had an engagement earlier in the year with a sub- 
marine, on the evening of April 13, 1916, and probably 
hit the enemy. 

In the spring of 1917 three more Q- ships, Nos. 24, 25, 
and 26, had been taken up to be fitted out and serve 
under Vice- Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, at Queenstown. 
These were respectively the Laggcin (alias Pladda), 
Paxton (alias Lady Patricia), and the Mavis (alias 
Nyi^oca), being small steamers of 1,200 or 1,300 tons, 
each armed with one 4-inch and two 12-pounders. Q 18 
(alias Lady Olive) had begun her work in January. 
Now, of these four ships two had very short lives. On 
May 20 Q 25 was sunk in the Atlantic, her com- 
manding officer and engineer officer being taken 
prisoners by the submarine. Twenty-two survivors 
were picked up by a trawler, and four were picked up 
by an American steamer and taken to Manchester. 
Three officers and eight men were found by the 
United States destroyer Wadswoi^th, who had arrived 
only a few days before from America. 

The fate of Q 18 was as follows : At 6.35, on the 
morning of February 19, 1917, she was at the western 
end of the English Channel, when she was attacked 
by a submarine who was coming up from 3 miles 
astern shelling her. After the usual panic party had 
been sent away and the others had concealed them- 
selves, the submarine came close under the stern, 
evidently so as to read the ship's name. At 7.10 
Lady Olive opened fire, the first two shots hitting the 
base of the conning-tower, the other shot putting the 
enemy's gun out of action and killing the man at 
the gun, the range being only 100 yards. Six more 
effectual shots were fired, the man in the conning- 


tower being also killed. The submarine then sub- 
merged. Lieutenant F. A. Frank, R.N.R., the 
captain of the Q-ship, now rang down for full speed 
ahead, with the intention of dropping depth charges. 
No answer was made to his telegraph, so he waited 
and rang again. Still no answer. He then left the 
bridge, went below to the engine-room, and found 
it full of steam, with the sea rising rapidly. 
Engine-room, stokehold, and the after 'tw^een deck 
were filling up, the dynamo was out of action, it was 
impossible to use the wireless, and the steam-pipe had 
burst owing to the enemy having landed two shots 
into the engine-room. 

As the ship was sinking, the only thing to do was 
to leave her. Boats and rafts were provisioned, the 
steel chest, containing confidential documents, was 
thrown overboard, the ship was this time really aban- 
doned in earnest, and all took to the three boats and 
two rafts at 9.30 a.m. Thus they proceeded in single 
line. Fortunately the weather was fine, and Lieu- 
tenant Frank decided to make for the French coast, 
w^hich was to the southward, and an hour later he 
despatched an officer and half a dozen hands in the 
small boat to seek for assistance. So the day went 
on, but only the slowest progress w^as made. At 
5 p.m. Lieutenant Frank decided to leave the rafts 
and take the men into the boats, as some were begin- 
ning to faint through immersion in the cold February 
sea, and it was impossible to make headway towing 
those ungainly floats with the strong tide setting them 
at this time towards the Atlantic. The accommoda- 
tion in each boat was for seventeen, but twenty-three 
had been crowded into each. 

With Lieutenant Frank's boat leading, the two 
little craft pulled towards the southward, and about 


9 p.m. a light was sighted, but soon lost through the 
mist and rain. An hour later another light showed 
up, and about this time Lieutenant Frank lost sight 
of his other boat, but at eleven o'clock a bright light 
was seen, evidently on the mainland, and this was 
steered for. Mist and rain again obscured everything, 
but by rowing through the night it was hoped to sight 
it by daylight. Night, however, was followed by a 
hopeless dawn, for no land was visible. It was heart- 
breaking after all these long hours. The men had 
now become very tired and sleepy, and were feeling 
downhearted, as well they might, with the cold, wet, 
and fatigue, and, to make matters no better, the wind 
freshened from the south-west, and a nasty, curling 
sea had got up. Lieutenant Frank put the boat's 
head on to the sea, did all he could to cheer his men 
up, and insisted that he could see the land. Everyone 
did a, turn at pulling, and the sub-lieutenant, the 
sergeant-major of marines, the coxswain, and Lieu- 
tenant Frank each steered by turns. Happily by 
noon of the twentieth the wind eased up, the sea 
moderated, and Lieutenant Frank had a straight talk 
to his men, telling them their only chance was to 
make the land, and to put their hearts into getting 
there, for land in sight there was. Exhorting these 
worn-out mariners to put their weight on to the oars, 
he reminded them that everyone would do ' spell 
about,' for the land must be made that night. 

Every man of this forlorn boat-load buckled to and 
did his best, but, owing to the crowded condition, and 
the weakness of them all, progress was pathetically 
slow. Thus passed another morning and another after- 
noon. But at 5.15 p.m. a steamer was sighted. Alas ! 
she ignored them and turned away to the westward, 
and apparently was not coming near them. Then 


presently she was seen to alter course to the east, and 
began to circle towards them. This was the French 
destroyer, Dunois, who had seen a submarine actually 
following this English rowing boat. The destroyer, 
which had to be handled smartly, came alongside the 
boat, and shouted to the men to come aboard quickly, 
as she feared she might lose the submarine. Here was 
rest at last ; but, just as the boat had got alongside, 
Dunois again caught sight of the Hun, had to leave 
the boat and begin circling round and firing on the 
pest. At six o'clock the destroyer once more closed 
the boat, and got sixteen of the men out, when she 
suddenly saw the U-boat, fired on her, and went full 
speed ahead, the port propeller guard crashing against 
the boat, so that it ripped out the latter 's starboard side. 

There were still seven men in the boat, and it 
seemed as if they were destined never to be rescued 
after their long vigil, and moreover the boat was now 
nearly full of water. Dtmois came down again ; some 
of the Q-ship's seven jumped into the water, the 
destroyer lowering her cutter and picking up the rest. 
The submarine was not seen again ; the destroyer 
arrived safely in Cherbourg, where the Englishmen 
were landed, and next morning they met a trawler 
with the crew of the second cutter on board. 

Such, then, were action and counter- action of Q- 
ship and submarine ; such were the hardships and 
suffering which our men were called upon to endure 
when by bad luck, error of judgment, or superior 
cleverness of the enemy, the combat ended unfavour- 
ably for the mystery ship. Not all our contests were 
indecisive or victorious, and some of these subsequent 
passages in open boats are most harrowing tales of 
the sea. Men became hysterical, went mad, died, and 
had to be consigned to the depths, after suffering the 


terrors of thirst, hunger, fatigue, and prolonged 
suspense. It was a favourite ruse for the U-boat, 
having seen the survivors row off, to remain in the 
vicinity until the rescuing ship should come along, so 
that, whilst the latter was stopped and getting the 
wretched victims on board, Fritz could, from the other 
side, send her to the bottom with an easily-aimed 
torpedo. There can be no doubt that, but for the 
smartness of Duiiois' captain, she, too, would have 
suffered the fate of the Q-ship, and then neither 
British nor French would have survived. It is such 
incidents as these which make it impossible to forget 
our late enemies, even if some day we forgive. 



On November 9, 1915, the Admiralty, who had taken 
up the steamer Penshurst (1,191 gross tons), com- 
missioned her at Longhope as a Q-ship, her ahases 
being Q 7 and Manjord. This inconspicuous-looking 
vessel thus began a life far more adventurous than 
ever her designers or builders had contemplated. 
Indeed, if we were to select the three Q-ships which 
had the longest and most exciting career, we should 
bracket Penshurst with Farnhorough and Baralong. 

The following incidents illustrate that no particular 
rule could be laid down as to when a Q-ship could 
get in touch with the enemy. We have seen that 
Baralong set forth for a particular locality to look 
for a definite submarine and found her. Other decoys 
searched for submarines but never so much as sighted 
one ; others, again, when everything seemed quiet, 
suddenly found themselves torpedoed and sinking. 
Others, too, had an engagement to-day, but their 
next fight did not come until a year later. The case 
of Penshurst is interesting in that on two consecutive 
days she fought a submarine, but she is further 
interesting as having been commanded by an officer 
who, with Captain Gordon Campbell, will always 
remain the greatest of all Q-ship captains. 

Commander F. H. Grenfell, R.N., was a retired 
officer who, like so many others, had come back 



to the service after the outbreak of war. After 
serving for a year in the 10th Cruiser Squadron as 
second-in-command of Cedric, he was appointed to 
command Penshurst, cruised up and down first off 
the north of Scotland, then off Ireland, and in the 
English Channel for nearly a year without any luck. 
On November 29, 1916, a year after her advent 

8.20 am f ^ 

Fig, 9. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of 'Pens- 
hurst' IN her Engagement with Submarine on November 29, 1916. 

into this special service, Penshurst, who, with her 
three masts, low freeboard, and funnel aft, resembled 
an oil-tanker, was steaming down the English Channel 
at 8 knots. The time was 7.45 a.m., and her course 
was S. 81 W. (Mag.), her position at this time being 
Lat. 49.45 N., Long. 4.40 W. She was definitely on 
the look-out for a certain submarine which had 
been reported at 4.30 the previous afternoon in Lat. 
50.03 N., Long. 3.38 W. As Penshiirst went jogging 


along, picture a smooth sea, a light south-west wind, 
and the sun just rising. Fine on the port bow 7 miles 
away was the British merchant steamer JVileyside, 
armed, as many ships were at this time, defensively 
with one gun aft ; while hull down on PensJiw^^f s 
starboard bow was a sailing ship of sorts. Then, 
of a sudden, a small object was sighted on the port 
beam against the glare of the horizon, so that it was 
difficult to make out either its nature or its distance. 
However, at 7.52 a.m. this was settled by the object 
firing a shot and disclosing herself as a submarine. 
The shot fell 60 yards short, but a few minutes later 
came another which passed over the mainmast with- 
out hitting. The range was about five miles, but 
owing to the bad light Captain Grenfell could not see 
whether the enemy was closing. In order to induce 
her so to do, at 8 a.m. he altered course to N. 4.5 W. 
This brought the enemy nearly astern, and at 
the same time Penshurst slowed down to half 
speed. By this time the sun was above the horizon, 
and the light was worse than before, but the sub- 
marine was apparently altering course to cut off the 
JVileyside, and ignoring Penshurst. Therefore, at 
8.6 a.m. the latter altered course so as again to 
bring the submarine abeam. This had the desired 
effect, for at 8.10 a.m. the submarine fired a third 
shot, which fell about 200 yards short of Penshurst, 
and this proved that Q-ship and submarine were 
closing. Two minutes later Penshurst stopped her 
engines and the usual ' panic ' evolution was carried 
out, by which time the submarine had closed to 
within 3,000 yards, and turned on a course parallel 
with the Q-ship, reducing to slow speed and being 
just abaft the Penshursfs port beam and silhouetted 
against the glare of the sun, three Germans being 


seen standing in the conning-tower. In order to 
spin out the time, the Q-ship's boats were being 
turned out and lowered as clumsily as possible, and 
now the U-boat sent along a couple more shots, one 
of which fell over and the other short. 

Thus far it had been a contest of brain, and 
Captain Grenfell had succeeded in making the enemy- 
conform to the British will. At 8.20 a.m., as there 
seemed no possibility of inducing the submarine 
to come any closer, Pensfmrst opened fire, but there 
was time to fire only a couple of rounds from the 
12-pounder and 6-pounder and three rounds from 
the 3-pounder before the German hurriedly dived, for 
all three guns had dropped their shots pretty close to 
the target. The shooting had been done under diffi- 
cult circumstances, for it was at a black spot against 
a strong glare. When once the enemy submerged, 
Penshurst went full speed to the spot and dropped a 
depth charge, but the German had escaped, and 
she would live to warn her sister submarines about 
the Q-ship which had surprised her. 

For this U-boat had had a careful look at Penshurst^ 
and Captain Grenfell could hardly hope to surprise 
the submarine again and bring her to action, so he 
altered course to the eastward with the object of 
intercepting another U-boat, whose presence had been 
reported at 11.15 that forenoon 5 miles north of 
Alderney. V^ery likely the submarine with whom he 
had just been engaged would send out by her 
telefiinken wireless a full description of the Q-ship, 
so, as she steamed along, Penshurst now altered her 
appearance by painting herself a different colour and 
by lowering the mizzen-mast during the night. Thus, 
when the sun rose on November 30, on what was to 
be Penshui'sfs lucky day, she seemed to be a totally 
different ship. 


During the forenoon of November 30 we should 
have seen this transformed Penshurst going down 
Channel again well south of the Dorset chalk cliffs. 
At noon she was in the position Lat. 50.11 N., 
Long. 2.31 W. (see track chart), steering N. 89 W., 

i I. so p.m.. 

OPosiHon c fS/ Mat3. I7pm 



C^squetsd y^ 


C Barf leu r 

Fig. 10. — Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of 'Pens- 
hurst ' IN HER Action with Submarine on November .30, 1916. 

when she intercepted a wireless signal from the 
Weymouth-Guernsey S.S. Ibex that a submarine 
had been seen at 11.44 a.m. 20 miles N.W. of the 
Casquets ; so the Q-ship altered course towards 
this position, and at 1.50 p.m. the conning- tower 



of a submarine was observed 5 miles to the south- 
ward, apparently chasing a steamer to the westward. 
A few minutes later the German turned eastward 
and then submerged. It was then that Penshurst 
saw a seaplane, which had come across the Channel 
from the Portland base, fly over the submarine's 
position and drop a bomb Mdthout effect. This 
caused Captain Grenfell to reconstruct his plans, for 
it was hopeless now to expect that the submarine 
would engage on the surface. On the other hand, 
the Q-ship with her speed would be superior to this 
type of submarine, which, when submerged, could not 
do better than 6 knots at her maximum, but would 
probably be doing less than this. The weapon should, 
therefore, be the depth charge, and not the gun. He 
decided to co-operate with the seaplane, and ran 
down towards her. 

It was necessary first to get in touch with the air- 
man and explain who the ship was, so at 2.22 p.m., 
being now in Lat. 50 N., Long. 2.48 W., Captain Gren- 
fell stopped his engines, and after some attempts at 
communication by signal, the seaplane alighted on 
the water alongside. Captain Grenfell was thus able 
to arrange with the pilot to direct the Q-ship and fire 
a signal-hght when the ship should be over the 
submarine ; a depth charge could then be let go. 
But the best-laid schemes of seamen and airmen 
sometimes went wrong : for, just after the seaplane 
had risen into the air, she crashed on to the water, 
broke a wing, knocked off her floats and began to 
sink. This was annoying at a time when the Q-ship 
wanted to be thinking of nothing except the enemy ; 
but Penshurst lowered her gig and rescued the air- 
men, then went alongside the injured seaplane, 
grappled it, and was preparing to hoist it on board 


when at 3. 14 p.m. a shell dropped into the sea 200 
yards ahead of the ship. Other shots quickly followed, 
and then the submarine was sighted about 6,000 yards 
on the port quarter. How the enemy must have 
laughed as, through his periscope, he saw the aircraft 
which so recently had been the aggressor, now a 
wreck ! How certain a victim the innocent-looking 
steamer seemed to him ! 

Captain Grenfell, by change of circumstances, had 
once more to modify his plans, stop all salvage work, 
cast off the seaplane and swing in his derrick, which 
was to have hoisted the latter in. The men in the 
gig could not be left, and he was faced with two 
alternatives. Either he could hoist the gig on the 
port quarter in full view of the enemy, or he could 
tow her alongside to starboard, and risk her being 
seen. He chose the latter, and at 3.24 p.m. proceeded 
on a south-westerly course at slow speed. The sub- 
marine now came up right astern, so course had to be 
altered gradually to keep the German on the port 
quarter and out of sight of the gig. 

Slowly the submarine overhauled the Q-ship, firing 
at intervals, and at 4.12 p.m., when she was within 
1,000 yards, Penshirst stopped her engines, the panic 
party ' abandoned ' ship, and the two boat-loads pulled 
away to starboard. The German now sheered out to 
port, swept round on Pemhursfs port beam, and 
passed close under the stern of her with the object of 
securing the ship's papers from the captain, whom the 
enemy supposed to be in the boats. A party of Ger- 
mans would then have boarded the ship and sunk her 
with bombs. But these intentions w^ere suddenly 
frustrated at 4.26 p.m., when, the submarine being on 
Penshursfs starboard quarter and all the latter's guns 
bearing, the British ship opened fire at the delight- 


fully convenient range of only 250 yards. This was 
the last thing the enemy was expecting. No one was 
standing by her 8"8-centimetre gun forward of the 
conning-tower, the attention of all the Germans on 
deck being directed towards the Q-ship's boats rowing 
about. Thus completely and utterly surprised, the 
Germans never made any attempt to return the fire. 
The second shot, fired from Penshursfs starboard 
3-pounder, penetrated right through into the engine- 
room and prevented the submarine from submerging. 
At this ridiculous range the British guns were able to 
be worked at their maximum rapidity, so that over 
eighty rounds were fired and almost every shot took 
effect. Very soon the submarine's hull was fairly 
riddled with holes, and large parts of the conning- 
tower and hull plating were blown away by the shells 
from the 12-pounder. 

After only ten minutes' engagement the submarine 
foundered, bows first, but not before Penshursfs boats 
had taken off the survivors and also those who had 
leapt into the sea. These survivors included Ober- 
Leutnant Erich Noodt, Leutnant Karl Bartel, In- 
genieur-Aspirant Eigler, and thirteen of the crew ; 
but seven had been killed. Thus perished UB 19, 
who had left Zeebrugge on November 22, having 
come via the Straits of Dover. She was about 118 
feet long, painted grey, had the one gun, tAVO peri- 
scopes, and had been built the year previous. She 
was of the smaller class of submarines belonging to 
the Flanders flotilla which operated for three weeks 
on end in" the waters of the English Channel, carrying 
only three torpedoes, one of which had already been 
used to sink a Norwegian ship. It was learned from 
her crew that her submerged speed was about 4 knots ; 
so Captain Grenfell, but for the accident to the sea- 

Q-SHTP " Penshuest'' 

This shows a dress rehearsal. The "panic party" are seen rowinj,' away in 
one of the ship's boats, the White Ensign is lieing hoisted on the foremast and 
the guns are about to open tire. In this picture she has her mizzen mast up. 

Q-sHiP "Penshurst" at sea 

Seen witli only two masts, the mizzen having been lowered. The crew's 
washing is displayed as in a tramp steamer. The funnel has been pninted a 
different colour. ]>ut behind the white wind screen on the lower bridge is a 
(i-pounder gun — one each side — which can fire from ahead to astern. Inside 
the boat on the main hatch just forward of the funnel is the (iummy boat in 
which a I'J-pounder is concealed. Two H-ponnders are in the after deck-house. 
Depth charges were released through ports in the counter. 

To face p. IIG 


plane, would have been able to get right over her and 
destroy her by depth charge. 

Thus, at length, after a year of hard work, dis- 
appointment, and all kinds of weather, Commander 
Grenfell, by liis doggedness and downright skill, had 
scored his tirst success. The King rewarded him with 
a D.S.O., another officer received the D.S.C., and 
one of the crew the D.S.M. The ship's complement 
consisted of Commander Grenfell, three temporary 
(acting) R.N.R. lieutenants, and one assistant pay- 
master, who was engaged during the action in taking 
notes. The crew numbered fifty-six, which included 
R.N.R. and R.N.V.R. ratings. The sum of £1,000 
was awarded to the ship, and, after the war, Lord 
Sterndale in the Prize Court awarded a further sum 
as prize bounty. 

The gallant Penshurst had not long to wait for her 
next adventure. December passed, and on January 
14, 1917, there was another and newer UB boat 
ready for her. It was ten minutes to four in the 
afternoon, and the Q-ship was in Lat. 50.9 N., Long. 
1.46 W. — that is to say, between the Isle of Wight 
and Alderney, when she saw a submarine heading 
towards her. Five minutes later, the German, when 
3,000 yards off, fired, but the shot fell short. The 
Q-ship then stopped her engines, went to ' panic ' 
stations, and sent away her boats with the ' abandon 
ship ' party. Penshurst then gradually fell off to 
port, and lay with her head about W.N. W., bringing 
the submarine on the starboard bow. Closing rapidly 
on this bearing, the UB boat kept firing at intervals, 
and when about 700 yards off turned as though to 
cross Captain GrenfelFs bows. The latter withheld his 
fire, thinking the enemy was going round to the boats 
on the port quarter, and he would be able to get her 


at close range. But the German stopped in this 
position, exposing her broadside, and quickened her 
rate of fire, hitting the steamer twice in succession. 
It was this kind of experience which always tested 
the discipline and training of the Q-ship, as a well- 
trained boxer can receive punishment without losing 
his temper, knowing his chance will come presently. 
The first hit broke an awning ridge-pole on Pens- 

Bill of f\}rHjnd 

J SOpm 

^Noon It/1/17 


Fig. 11.— Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of 
' Penshurst ' in her Action with Submarine on January 14, 1917. 

Jmrsfs bridge, the second shell struck the angle of the 
lower bridge, severing the engine-room telegraph 
connections and the pipe connecting the hydraulic 
release gear, by means of which the depth charge aft 
could be let go from the bridge. This shell also 
killed the gun-layer and loading-number of the 
6-pounder, wounding its breech-worker and the 
signalman who was standing by to hoist the White 
Ensign. So at 4.24 p.m. Fenshurst opened fire, her 


first shot from the 12-pounder hitting the base of the 
enemy's conning-tower and causing a large explosion, 
as though the ammunition had been exploded. 
Large parts of the conning-tower were seen to be 
blown away, and a big volume of black smoke arose. 
The second British shot from this gun hit the enemy 
a little abaft the conning-tower and also visibly 
damaged the hull. The starboard 3-pounder hit the 
lower part of the conning-tower at least four times, 
and then the enemy sank by the stern. PensJiurst 
wanted to make sure, so steamed ahead and dropped 
depth charges over her, then picked up her boats and 
made for Portland, where she arrived at ten o'clock 
that evening and sent her wounded to the Naval 
Hospital. It had been another excellent day's work, 
for UB 37, one of those modern craft fitted w4th net- 
cutters forward for the purpose of cutting a way 
through the Dover Straits barrage, had been definitely 
destroyed without a single survivor, ^lore rewards 
followed, and, later on, more prize bounty. 

Penshurst resumed her cruising, and just about a 
month later she was in the western approach to the 
English Channel, the exact date being February 20, 
and the position Lat. 49.21 N., Long. 6.16 W. At 
12.36 p.m. a German submarine rose to the surface, 
and a quarter of an hour later began firing at a range 
of 3,000 yards. Penshurst then ' abandoned ' ship, 
and at 1.4 p.m. opened fire and scored a hit with her 
6-pounder. At 100 yards range the other guns came 
into action, and the enemy was hit above the water- 
line in the centre of the conning-tower and abaft this 
superstructure. She then submerged and was depth- 
charged ; yet this submarine, in spite of all this, was 
not sunk. This again illustrated the statement 
already made that a submarine could be severely 


holed and yet be able to get back home. A still more 
illuminating example is to be found in the following 

Only two days had elapsed and Penshurst was 
again busily engaged. It was at 11.34 a.m., Feb- 
ruary 22, and the ship was off the south coast of 
Ireland, the exact position being Lat. 51.56 N., 
Long. ^A^ W. Penshurst was steering S. 89 W. 
when she saw a submarine steering west. The steam- 
ship therefore steamed at her utmost speed, but 
could not get up to her, for we may as well mention 
that this was U 84, a very up-to-date submarine 
which had a surface speed of 16 knots and could do 
her 9 knots submerged for a whole hour. It is not 
to be wondered, therefore, that she could run away 
from this slow steamer and at 11.55 a.m. disappear. 
At this time there was in sight 8 miles away H.^l.S. 
Alyssum, one of Admiral Bayly's sloops based on 
Queenstown, who was escorting the large four-masted 
S.S. Canadian. As Penshurst proceeded, she sighted 
at 12.18 p.m. a boat with men in it, these being from 
the torpedoed sailing ship Tnvercauld, which had been 
sunk 22 miles S.E. of Mine Head, Ireland, that same 
day. A few minutes later and Penshurst observed 
the keel of this ship floating bottom up. At 12.35 
the periscopes of U 84 were seen to emerge 400 yards 
on the port beam, and the track of a torpedo making 
straight for the midships of Penshurst. By at once 
starboarding the helm, disaster was avoided, but the 
torpedo passed as close as 15 feet. 

The Q-ship then altered course to E. J S. as though 
running away, and reduced to half speed to allow the 
enemy to come up. Boats were turned out, the panic 
party stood by with lifebelts on, and just after one 
o'clock, at 3,500 yards range, the U-boat opened fire. 

Q-SHip " Penshurst " 

In this dummy boat mounted on the main hatch is seen hidden the 12-pounder 
gun. The sides of the boat were movable. The voice pipe from the bridge to 
the two after guns was laslied to the derricli and thus liidden from the enemy. 


This shows how the concealed 12-pounder gun could be brought into action by 
removing the boat's sides. The bow end of the boat has been moved to the far 
side of the gun. where Captain Grenfell, attired in his '■ mystery" rig of a 
^piaster mariner, is seen standing. As will be seen from the other photograph, 
the sides of the boat when in position were a perfect fit. The coil of rope was 
intended to hide the gun's pedestal from observation by the enemy. 

To face p. 120 


whereupon the Q-ship ' abandoned ' ship. Then the 
enemy closed to 1,500 yards on the starboard bow, 
but cautiously submerged, and then, closely and 
leisurely, inspected the ship from the periscope. 
Having done that, and apparently been quite satisfied 
that this was no trap- ship, the submarine emerged on 
the port quarter, GOO yards away and broadside on. 
One German officer then came out of the conning- 
tower and two other men looked out of the hatch. 
The first then shouted for the captain to come along- 
side with the ship's papers, but the British petty 
officer in charge of the boat party, in order to gain 
valuable time, ingeniously pretended not to under- 
stand. The German then repeated his order, so the 
petty officer replied he w^ould bring the boat round 
by the stern, the intention, of course, secretly being 
for the purpose of affording Penshurst a clear range. 

The petty officer's crew had not rowed more than 
three strokes when bang went Penshursfs guns, at 
which the German officer leapt through the hatch of 
his conning-tower, a shot hitting the after part of this 
superstructure just as the officer disappeared. Two 
more shells got home in the centre, another hit the 
hull abaft the conning-tower and burst, one holing 
the hull below the conning-tow^er's base. The sub- 
marine dived, but after a few minutes her bows came 
up out of the water at a steep angle. Fire was then 
reopened at her, and one shot was seen to go through 
her side, and then once more she submerged. Tw^o 
depth charges were dropped near the spot and 
exploded, and then again the bows of the enemy 
broke surface at a steep angle, but 3,000 yards to the 
westward. Next the after deck came to the surface, 
and all the crew came out and lined the deck. Pens- 
hurst resumed shelling, hit her again, but U 84 now 


returned the fire. She was a big submarine, 230 feet 
long, armed with a 4*1 -inch and a 22-pounder, and 
a dozen torpedoes which could be fired from six 

But now approached H.M.S. Alyssum from the 
north and began to shell the enemy, so that the latter 
made off to the southward. The speed of Penshurst 
was 8 knots — that is to say, about half that of the 
enemy. Nor could the sloop overtake the latter, who, 
after being chased for three hours, disappeared at 
5.12 p.m. These sloops had been built for mine- 
sweeping work, and not as anti-submarine ships, and 
it was only because of the shortage of destroyers — 
thanks largely to the demands in this respect by the 
Grand Fleet — that these single-screwed, compara- 
tively slow vessels were engaged on escort and patrol 

In this engagement between the Q-ship and sub- 
marine everything had been done that could have 
been brought about by a most experienced, skilful, 
and determined British officer. His guns had kept 
on hitting, and yet the enemy had escaped. Fortu- 
nately we now know the story from the enemy's side, 
as an account of this incident was published in the 
German Press, and bears out all that has been said 
above. The German version mentions that U 84 
took the British ship for a tank steamer. This is not 
in the least surprising, for the Penshurst was one of 
those small ships with her engines aft just as you see 
in an ' oil-tanker,' and such a craft was sure enough 
bait for any submarine. The Germans say the 
torpedo was fired at 765 yards range, and missed 
because the British ship was going ' faster than we 
supposed.' The Q-ship's disguise was perfect, for it 
was not until she opened fire that she was suspected 


of being a 'trap.' As to the latter's shelling, the 
German account admits that the superstructure abaft 
the conning- tower was at once penetrated, and that 
hardly had the hatch been closed than ' there is a 
sharp report in the conning-tower, a yellow flash, and 
explosive gases fill the air. A shell has penetrated 
the side of the conning-tower and exploded inside.' 
The result was that one man was injured. She then 
dived, and at G5-G feet they felt the two depth 
charges, which made the boat tremble and put out 
some of the electric lights. The forward hydroplane 
jammed, and this was the reason she came to the 
surface at such a steep angle. The gyro compass, 
the main rudder, the trimming pump, and all the 
control apparatus also broke down. But what about 
the leaks made by the shells ? These were plugged, 
the tricolour flag of the French sailing ship Bayonne, 
which they had sunk on February 17 in the English 
Channel, being also used for that purpose. 

The German account goes on to say this submarine 
was now compelled to proceed on the surface and 
run away, and the numerous men then seen on her 
deck were engaged in bringing up ammunition, ' all 
the men who are not occupied below' being thus 
employed. The submarine at first took Alyssum for 
a destroyer, and certainly bow on she was not unlike 
one. It needs little imagination to realize how 
narrowly the enemy had escaped, and the moral 
effect which was made on the German crew. \^^e 
know now that a German petty officer was killed 
and an officer wounded. It mattered little that the 
conning-tower was holed, for, as has been already 
pointed out, this is not an essential part of the sub- 
marine's construction. By closing the hatch on deck 
no water could get down into the hull from here ; 


and the other holes being also plugged, U 84 could 
thus get back home by keeping out to sea during 
daylight hours, avoiding our patrols, and passing 
headlands under cover of night. 

A month later Penshurst again fought a sharp 
action under Commander Grenfell at the eastern end 
of the English Channel, the position being in Lat. 
50.28 N., Long. 0.12 W. In this engagement she 
did not sink the enemy, but was herself badly damaged 
and so seriously holed that she had to be towed to 
Portsmouth the following day. Here she underwent 
a long refit, and then went forth to fight again and to 
fight, as ever, splendidly. She had a new command- 
ing officer. Lieutenant Cedric Naylor, R.N.R., who 
had been second-in-command to Captain Grenfell, now 
invalided ashore, and this lieutenant well maintained 
the traditions of the Q-service, and added to the dis- 
tinctions won by this wonderful ship. Oft in danger, 
but always emerging from the tightest of corners, 
leaving the enemy seriously wounded, the gallant 
Penshurst carried on. 

On July 2 she was steaming her 8 knots, as usual, 
and was in the western approaches (Lat. 49.10 N., 
Long. 8.25 W.), when at 1.30 p.m. a submarine 
was seen crossing the ship's bows 6,000 yards away. 
She dived and waited for Penshurst to approach 
in the manner of attack outlined in a previous 
chapter as being the tactics of a submarine. Then, 
after a while, the periscope was sighted 500 yards 
away on the port beam, so Penshurst, knowing a 
torpedo was imminent, waited, and, the torpedo 
having been sent, altered course to avoid it, just 
missing by a matter of 10 feet. The ship's company 
then went to ' panic ' stations and the ship was 
' abandoned.' At 3.35 p.m. the enemy came to the 

The Gallant Captain and Officers of Q-ship " Penshurst " 

From left to right : Paymaster-Lieut. W. R. Ashton. R.iSI.R. ; Lieut. S. P. R. White, 
R.N.R. : Sub-Lieut. J. R. Stenhouse, R.N.R. (in command of the "Aurora " in Hir E. 
Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition, 1914-15); Captain F. H. Grenfell, R.N.; Lieut. C. 
Naylor, R.N.R. (First Lieut.); and Lieut. W. S. Harrison, R.N.R. (Navigating Oflicer). 

Men of thk Q ship " Penshi-ust '' 

The ship's gunlayers and carpenter. The man in the centre wearing service uniform 

was the giinlayer of the bridge (I-poundcr who was killed in the action of January 14, 

I'.llT. The others are wearing their Q-.ship "rig." 

To face p. 124 


surface 5,000 yards away on the starboard quarter, 
at 3.39 p.m. opened fire and continued until 4.13 p.m., 
when PeJishurst herself started firing at 4,500 yards, 
succeeding in hitting the enemy sixteen times, and 
undoubtedly seriously damaging him. The submarine 
managed to pass out of range and was not sunk. 
Three destroyers now came on the scene and gave 
chase, but the German got away. For this engage- 
ment Lieutenant Naylor received the D.S.O. 

In accordance with Penshursfs previous experience, 
not many weeks elapsed before she was again in 
combat. It was the following August 19, and she 
was cruising again in the western approaches. That 
morning a steamship had sighted a submarine, and 
Penshurst, who was now in Lat. 47.45 N., Long. 
8.35 W., was steering S. 50 W., doing 8 knots, when 
she saw the enemy 6 miles ahead steering across the 
bows, evidently making the ' approach ' in his tactics. 
There was little north-west wind, a moderate westerly 
swell, and the sky was clear, but there was a strong 
glare from the sun. At 5.8 p.m. the enemy dived, 
and Lieutenant Naylor estimated that she would 
probably attack with torpedo about 5.45 p.m. 
Exactly at 5.44 a torpedo was observed to break 
water 1,000 yards from the ship, 3 points on the star- 
board bow, just forward of the sun's rays. Penshurst 
put her helm hard aport, and at 5.45 the torpedo 
struck her — but fortunately it was only a glancing 
blow immediately below the bridge. The smart 
handling of the ship had thus saved her from being 
struck further aft, where the consequences would 
have been even more serious. As it was, the explosion 
caused a high volume of water to rise in such quantities 
that upper and lower bridges and after deck were 
flooded, overwhelming the gun's crew concealed there, 


and filling the starboard boat hanging in the davits 
over 70 feet away from the point of impact. Further- 
more, it caused the ship to take a heavy list to 
starboard so that the sea poured in over the bulwarks, 
and she afterwards rolled to port, the water then 
pouring in on this side also. 

Some of the crew were hurled with force against 
the ceiling of the cabins, but perfect discipline still 
continued, as might well be expected with such 
a well-tried crew. She had been torpedoed in 
No. 2 hold, the starboard side of the lower bridge 
had been stripped, and unfortunately the 12-pounder 
there kept screened was thus exposed. Unfortunately, 
too, the sides of the dummy boat amidships, which 
hid another 12-pounder, were thrown down by the 
explosion, thus exposing this gun, flooding the 
magazine, putting out of action all controls from 
the bridge as well as the ship's compasses and so on. 
What was to be done now ? Lieutenant Naylor 
wisely decided not to ' abandon ' ship since the guns 
had been disclosed ; the ship could not be manoeuvred 
so as to hide this side, and the enemy would probably 
make another attack. She was therefore kept under 
way, the steering gear was connected up with the 
main steering engines, the wireless repaired, and at 
5.58 a general signal was sent out to H.M. ships 
requesting assistance. 

At five minutes past six the submarine showed 
herself on the port quarter 6,000 yards away. This 
made things better, for if the enemy had not already 
observed the exposed guns she could still be kept 
in ignorance, as the sides of the false boat had in the 
meantime been replaced in position. Therefore the 
3-pounder on the top of the gunhouse aft opened fire 
at 5,000 yards. This was quite a normal happening. 


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for many a small mercantile steamer was thus armed 
defensivel}^ The enemy replied, and at 6.21, as the 
latter showed no intention of decreasing the range, 
Penshurst opened fire with all guns on the port side, 
and appeared to hit, so that at 6.24 the enemy 
submerged. Meanwhile the Penshurst was not under 
control and steamed round in circles, but help was 
approaching, for at 6.50 p.m. H.M.S. Leonidas wire- 
lessed saying she would reach Penshurst at 7.30 p.m. 
At 7.5 the submarine was 7 miles astern, waiting 
stationary to see what would happen, but at 7.26 
she dived on observing the approaching destroyer. 
Nightfall came, and as the water was still gaining in 
the Q-ship, all the men who could be spared were 
transferred to the Leonidas. Penshurst then shaped 
a course E.N.E. for Plymouth, and next day at 
1.30 p.m. was taken in tow by a tug which had been 
sent out with two armed trawlers from the Scillies 
Naval Base. Thus, wounded yet not beaten, she 
passed through Plymouth Sound, and on August 21 
made fast to a Devonport jetty, happily having 
suffered no casualties to any of her personnel. Lieu- 
tenant Naylor received a bar to his D.S.O., the ship 
had a thorough refit, and in place of a 12-pounder she 
was now given a 4-inch gun, which would enable her 
to fight the 4*l-inch U-boat gun on more equal 

Then, still commanded by Lieutenant Naylor, she 
went forth again. We can pass over the intervening 
weeks and come to Christmas Eve, 1917. At a time 
when most non-combatants ashore were about to take 
part in the great festival, this most gallant ship, 
heroine of so many fights, was in the direst straits. 
At midday she was approaching the southern end of 
the Irish Sea, shaping a course to intercept a sub- 


marine operating off the Smalls, when ten minutes 
later she sighted a U-boat two points on the port bow, 
in Lat. 51.31 N., Long. 5.33 W., about 5 miles ahead, 
steering at right angles to Penshurst and beginning 
the 'approach' of her attacking tactics. Penshurst 
was making her usual 8 knots, and at 12.12 p.m. 
the enemy, as was expected, submerged. Although 
the Q-ship zigzagged and tried to make the enemy- 
break surface astern and attack by gunfire, the Ger- 
man was too good at his own job, and at 1.31 p.m. 
came the torpedo, fired from 300 yards away, half a 
point forward of the port beam. Only the track of 
the torpedo was seen, the ship's helm was put hard 
aport, but the torpedo could not be avoided and 
struck the ship between the boilers and engine-room. 
Violent was the explosion, great was the damage, so 
that the ship stopped dead and began to settle by the 
stern. The sides of the dummy boat amidships had 
fallen down, thus exposing the midships 4-inch gun, 
and the after gunhouse had also collapsed, reveaUng 
the guns here placed, though the l2-pounder guns on 
the bridge remained intact and concealed, with the 
guns' crews close up and out of siglit. The ship was 
now ' abandoned,' and panic parties were sent away 
in the one remaining boat and two rafts. The enemy, 
still submerged, proceeded to circle the ship, inspect 
her closely, approach the boat and rafts, and then at 
2.40 p.m. rose to the surface on the port bow 250 
yards off and began shelling Penshurst with her after 
gun. The Q-ship was about to open fire, but, owing 
to having settled down so much by the stern, the gun 
there could not be sufficiently depressed to bear. It 
was only when the ship rolled or pitched enough that 
advantage was taken of such movement and the enemy 
fired at. Six rounds were fired, the second hitting 



the submarine on the starboard side of the deck for- 
ward, the fourth hitting abaft the conning-tower. 
The enemy dived, and at 3.47 p.m. reappeared on the 
starboard beam 5 miles away. But now one of 
H.M. P-boats, those low-lying, specially constructed 
anti-submarine craft, rather like a torpedo-boat, arrived 
on the scene, so that the submarine was frightened 
away and not sighted again on that day, though she 
was probably the one sunk by a P-boat on Christmas 

As for Penshurst, help had come too late. The 
crew were saved, but the ship herself sank at 8.5 p.m. 
on December 24, 1917. Lieutenant Cedric Naylor, 
who already possessed the decorations of D.S.O. and 
bar and D.S.C., and had for his gallantry been trans- 
ferred from R.N.R. to the Royal Navy, now received 
a second bar to his D.S.O., and Lieutenant E. 
Hutchison, R.N.R. , received a D.S.O. Thus after 
two years of the most strenuous service, full of 
honours, this Penslmrst ended her glorious life as a 
man-of-war. Wounded, scar-stained, repaired and 
refitted, her gallant crew, so splendidly trained by 
Captain Grenfell, had kept taking her to sea along 
the lanes of enemy activity. Insignificant to look at, 
when you passed her on patrol you would never have 
guessed the amount of romance and history contained 
in her hull. Naval history has no use for hysteria and 
for the sensational exaggeration of ' stunt ' journalism, 
but it is difficult to write calmly of the great deeds 
performed in these most unheroic-looking ships. To- 
day some Q-ship officers and men are walking about 
looking for jobs, and there are not ships in commis- 
sion to employ them. But yesterday they were 
breaking the spirit of the U-boat personnel, risking 
their lives to the uttermost limits in the endeavour to 


render ineffectual the submarine blockade and the 
starvation of the nation. 

Bravery such as we have seen in this and other 
chapters was greater than even appears : for, having 
once revealed the identity of your ship as a man-of- 
war, the wounded submarine would remember you, 
however much you might disguise yourself; and the 
next time he returned, as he usually did, to the same 
station, he would do his best to get you, even if he 
spent hours and days over the effort. That officers 
and men willingly, eagerly, went to sea in the same 
Q-ships, time after time, when they might have 
obtained, and would certainly have deserved, a less 
trying appointment afloat or ashore, is surely a positive 
proof that we rightly pride ourselves on our British 
seamanhood. Through the centuries we have bred 
and fostered and even discouraged this spirit. In 
half- decked boats, in carracks, galleons, wooden walls, 
fishing boats, lifeboats, pleasure craft ; in steam, and 
steel-hulled motor, cargo ships, in liner and tramp and 
small coaster, this seamanlike character has been 
trained, developed, and kept alive, and now in the 
Q-ship service it reaches its apotheosis. For all that 
is courageous, enduring, and inspiring among the 
stories of the sea in any period, can you beat it ? Can 
you even equal it ? 



One of the great lessons of the Great War was the 
inter-relation of international politics and warfare. 
It was an old lesson indeed, but modern conditions 
emphasized it once more. We have already seen that 
the torpedoing in 1915 of the Atlantic liners Lusitania 
and Arabic caused pressure to be put on the German 
Government by the United States of America. In 
the spring of 1916 the submarine campaign, for the 
Germans, was proceeding very satisfactorily. In 
February they had sunk 24,059 tons of British mer- 
chant shipping, in March they sank 83,492 tons, in 
April 126,540 tons ; but in May this dropped sud- 
denly to 42,165 tons. What was the reason for this 
sudden fall ? 

The answer is as follows : On March 24, 1916, the 
cross-Channel S.S. Sussex was torpedoed by a 
German submarine, and it happened that many 
citizens of the U.S.A. were on board at the time and 
several were killed. This again raised the question 
of relations between the U.S.A. and Germany, the 
New York World going so far as to ask, ' Whether 
anything is to be gained by maintaining any longer 
the ghastly pretence of friendly diplomatic corre- 
spondence with a Power notoriously lacking in truth 
and honour.' On April 20, therefore, the U.S.A. 
presented a very sharp note to the German Govern- 



ment, protesting against the wrongfulness of the 
submarine campaign waged versus commerce, and 
threatened to break off diplomatic relations. The 
result of this was that Germany had to give way, 
and sent orders to her naval staff to the effect that 
submarine warfare henceforth was to be carried on in 
accordance with Prize Law : that is to say, the 
U-boats — so Admiral Scheer interpreted it — were 
' to rise to the surface and stop ships, examine papers, 
and all passengers and crew to leave the ship before 
sinking her.' 

Now this did not appeal to the German mind at 
all. ' As war waged according to Prize Law by 
U-boats,' wrote Admiral Scheer,"---" ' in the waters 
around England could not possibly have any success, 
but, on the contrary, must expose the boats to the 
greatest dangers, I recalled all the U-boats by wire- 
less, and announced that the U-boat campaign 
against British commerce had ceased.' Thus we find 
that after April 26 the sinkings of British merchant 
ships became low until they began to increase in 
September, 191G, and then rapidly mounted up until 
in April, 1917, they had reached their maximum for 
the whole war with 516,394 tons. It is to be noted 
that after May 8, until July 5, 1916, no sinkings by 
U-boats occurred in home waters, although the 
sinkings went on in the Mediterranean, where risk 
of collision with American interests was less likely 
to occur. 

Having regard to the increasing utility and effici- 
ency of the Q-ships, we can well understand Admiral 
Scheer's objection to U-boats rising to the surface, 
examining the ship's papers, and allowing everyone 
to leave the ship before sinking her. This was the 

* ' Germany's High Sea Fleet in the World War/ p. 242. 


recognized law, and entirely within its rights the 
Q-ship made full use of this until she hoisted the 
White Ensign and became suddenly a warship. It 
shows the curious mental temper of the German that 
he would gamble only when he had the dice loaded in 
his favour. He had his Q-ships, which, under other 
names, endeavoured and indeed were able to pass 
through our blockade, and go raiding round the 
world ; but until his submarines could go at it ruth- 
lessly, he had not the same keenness. It was on 
February 1, 1917, that his Unrestricted Submarine 
Campaign began, and this was a convenient date, seeing 
that Germany had by this time 109 submarines. We 
know these facts beyond dispute, for a year after the 
signing of Armistice Germany held a ' General 
National Assembly Committee of Inquiry ' into the 
war, and long accounts were published in the Press. 
One of the most interesting witnesses was Admiral 
von Capelle, who, in March, 1916, had succeeded 
von Tirpitz as ISIinister of JNIarine ; and from the 
former's lips it was learned that one of the main 
reasons why Germany in 1916 built so few sub- 
marines was the Battle of Jutland ; for the damage 
inflicted on the High Sea Fleet necessitated taking 
workmen away from submarine construction to do 
repairs on the big ships. The number and intensity 
of the minefields laid by the British in German 
waters in that year caused Germany to build many 
minesweepers to keep clear the harbour exits. This 
also, he says, took men away from submarine build- 
ing. It needed a couple of years to build the larger 
U-boats and a year to build the smaller ones ; and 
though at the beginning of the Unrestricted Cam- 
paign in February, 1917, there were on paper 
109 German submarines, and before the end of the 


war, in spite of sinkings by Allied forces, the number 
even averaged 127, yet there were never more than 
76 actually in service at one time, and frequently the 
number was half this amount. For the Germans 
divided the seas up into so many stations, and for 
each station five submarines were required, thus : 
one actually at work in the area, one just relieved 
on her way home for rest and refit, a third on her 
way out from refit to relieve number one, while two 
others were being overhauled by dockyard hands. 
Geographically Germany was unfortunately situated 
for attacking the shipping reaching the British Isles 
from the Atlantic and Bay of Biscay. Before the 
submarines could get into the Atlantic they had 
either to negotiate the Dover Straits or go round the 
North of Scotland. The first was risky, especially 
for the bigger and more valuable submarines, and 
during 1918 became even highly dangerous ; but 
the second, especially during the boisterous winter 
months, knocked the submarines about to such 
an extent that they kept the dockyards busier than 

All this variation of U-boat activity reacted on the 
rise, development, and wane of the Q-ship. In the 
early part of 1917, when the submarine campaign was 
at its height, the Q-ships were at the top of their 
utility. It was no longer any hole-and-corner service, 
relying on a few keen, ingenious brains at one or two 
naval bases, but became a special department in the 
Admiralty, who selected the ships, arranged for the 
requisite disguises, and chose the personnel. The 
menace to the country's food had by this time 
become so serious — a matter of a very few weeks, as 
we have since learned, separated us from starvation — 
that every anti-submarine method had to be carried 


out with vigour, and at that time no method promised 
greater success than these mystery ships. Altogether 
about 180 vessels of various sorts were taken up and 
commissioned as Q-ships. Apart from the usual 
tramp steamers and colliers and disguised trawlers, 
thirty-four sloops and sixteen converted P-boats, 
named now ' PQ's,' were equipped. The P-boat, as 
mentioned on a previous page, was a low-lying craft 
rather like a torpedo-boat ; but her great feature was 
her underwater design. She was so handy and had a 
special forefoot that if once she got near to a sub- 
marine the latter would certainly be rammed ; in one 
case the P-boat went clean through the submarine's 
hull. The next stage, then, was to build a suitable 
superstructure on this handy hull, so that the ship 
had all the appearance of a small merchant ship. 
Because of her shallow, deceptive draught she was 
not likely to be torpedoed, whereas her extreme 
mobility was very valuable. 

In every port all over the country numerous 
passenger and tramp steamers and sailing ships were 
inspected and found unsuitable owing to their 
peculiar structure or the impossibility of effective 
disguise combined with a sufficient bearing of the 
disguised guns. All this meant a great deal of 
thought and inventive genius, the tonnage as a rule 
ranging from 200 to 4,000, and the ships being 
sent to work from Queenstown, Longhope, Peter- 
head, Granton, Lowestoft, Portsmouth, Plymouth, 
Falmouth, Milford, Malta, and Gibraltar. And 
when you ask what was the net result of these 
Q-ships, the whole answer cannot be given in mere 
figures. Generally they greatly assisted the merchant- 
man, for it made the U-boat captain very cautious, 
and there are instances where he desisted from attack- 


ing a real merchant ship for the reason that something 
about her suggested a Q-ship. In over eighty cases 
Q-ships damaged German submarines and thus sent 
them home licking their wounds, anxious only to be 
left alone for a while. This accounts for some of 
those instances when a merchant ship, on seeing a 
submarine proceeding on the surface, was surprised 
to find that the German did not attack. Thus the 
Q-ship had temporarily put a stop to sinkings by that 
submarine. But apart from these indirect, yet no 
less valuable, results, no fewer than eleven submarines 
were directly sent to their doom of all the 203 
German U-craft sunk during the war from various 
causes, including mines and accidents. 

But as time went on it became inevitable that the 
more a Q-ship operated the more likely would she be 
recognized and the less useful would be her work. 
By August, 1917, Q-ships Avere having a most 
difficult time, and during that month alone six 
Q-ships were lost. By September their success, 
broadly speaking, was on the wane. This, however, 
does not mean that their service had ceased to be 
productive or that they were no longer deemed worth 
while. On the contrary, as we shall see presently, 
they were to perform more wonderful work, and the 
number of Q-ships was actually increased, especially 
in respect of sailing ships in home waters ; but those 
which happened to make an unsuccessful attack were 
at once ordered to return to their base and alter both 
rig and disguise. Similarly, in the Mediterranean, 
where the submarines w^ere doing us so much harm, 
the number of Q-ships was increased, and one was 
cleverly included in the outward-bound convoys, to 
drop astern as soon as in the danger zone, after the 
manner of many a lame-duck merchantman whose 


engines had caused him to straggle. Then would 
come the Q-ship's chance, when she revealed herself 
as a warship and fooled the submarine from attacking 
the convoy, which had just disappeared over the 
horizon in safety. 

The converted 'flower' class sloops, originally 
built as minesweepers, but by the able work of the 
naval dockyard staff now made to resemble little 
merchantmen, were having a busy time. Tulip 
(Q 12), for instance, which had begun her Q-ship 
service at the end of August, 1916, was sunk eight 
months later by a submarine in the Atlantic and her 
captain taken prisoner, though eighty survivors were 
picked up by the British destroyer Mary Rose and 
landed in Queenstown.* The sloop Viola began this 
special work towards the end of September, 1916, 
and a month later was shelled by a submarine, who 
suddenly gave up the attack and made off" to the 
northward, having evidently realized the sloop's dis- 
guise, which none but an expert seafarer could have 
penetrated. Now, in each submarine there was 
usually carried as warrant navigating officer a man 
who had served in German liners and freighters and 
would be familiar with the shipping normally to be 
found in the area to which each U-boat was assigned. 
In this particular incident his practised eye had 
evidently been struck by the position of the above- 
water discharge being vertically under the imitation 
cargo hatch and derrick forward of the mainmast. 
These were important details which had to be 
watched if the disguise was to be successful. 

■^ Tulip was sunk by U 62, whose captain reported that she was 
a very well-disguised trap, having the appearance of a medium-sized 
cargo steamer. Suspicion was aroused by the way the merchant 
flag was hoisted, and the fact that she appeared to have no defensive 

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Q-SHiP '• Tulip "' 

This vessel was originally built as a sloop, but was given a false stern and 
generally altered to resemble a merchantman. 

(^-sHip '• Tamarisk'' 

Like the "Tulip," this vessel was originally built as a warship. She was 
cleverly altered so that both in hull and upperworks she resembled a merchant 


To fucu p. 138 


Another converted sloop was Tamarisix, who began 
that role at the end of July, 1916, and was commanded 
by Lieutenant John W. Williams, R.N.R. Towards 
the end of November she was shelled by a submarine 
at long range, so that the Q-ship had to declare her- 
self and reply, whereupon the enemy beat a retreat 
and dived. Hitherto the excellent Q-ship gunnery 
had depended on the fact that first-class men had 
been selected who would be able at short range to 
score hits with the first or second rounds. But this 
incident of the Tamarisk, involving at least 0,000 
yards range, showed that a small range-finder would 
be very useful, and this was accordingly supplied. 
Other sloops thus converted to resemble merchant- 
men were the Begonia, Aubrietia, Salvia, Heather, 
and so on. 

The Q-ships operated not merely in the North 
Atlantic, English Channel, North Sea, and Mediter- 
ranean, but in such areas as off Lapland and the other 
side of the North and South Atlantic. For instance, 
the S.S. Intaba (Q 2), under Commander Frank 
Powell, on December 8, 1916, was in action with a 
submarine not far from the Kola Inlet, and had been 
sent to these northern latitudes inasmuch as German 
submarines for some time had been sinking our 
merchant ships off that coast. Another Q-ship 
operated with a British E-class submarine near 
Madeira and the Canaries ; and another Q-ship was 
in the South Atlantic looking for a German raider, 
At other times there were the ocean-going submarines 
Deutschland and Bremen to be looked out for. 
There was thus plenty of work to be carried out by 
these decoy vessels in almost every sea. 

But it was especially those Q-ships based on 
Queenstown who had to bear the brunt of the sub- 


marine warfare. Strategically, Queenstown was an 
outpost of the British Isles, and there was scarcely a 
day in the week when one Q-ship was not leaving or 
entering Queenstown, or in the Haulbowline Dock- 
yard being got ready for her next ' hush ' cruise. 
Bearing in mind that this base was in a country 
whose inhabitants were largely anti-British, that 
there had been a great rising in Dublin at Eastertide, 
1916, and that the German disguised S.S. Aud had 
made an ineffectual attempt to land a cargo of arms, 
and that Sir Roger Casement had arrived, it may 
well be realized how great was the responsible task of 
enshrouding these decoys in secrecy. Perhaps for 
weeks a recently requisitioned ship would be along- 
side the dockyard quay having her necessary disguises 
made, and yet the enemy knew nothing about it 
until he found himself surprised, and forced to keep 
at long range or hide himself in the depths of the sea. 
Sound organization, constant personal attention on 
the part of the Commander-in-Chief, and loyal, 
enthusiastic co-operation on the part of the officers 
and men, achieved the successes which came to this 
difficult work of Q-ships. It was all such a distinctly 
novel kind of sea service, which was of too personal 
and particular a kind to allow it to be run by mere 
routine. During the whole of its history it was experi- 
mental, and each cruise, each engagement, almost 
each captain added to the general body of knowledge 
which was being rapidly accumulated. It seemed 
for the professional naval officer as if the whole 
of his previous life and training had been capsized. 
Instead of his smart, fast twin-screw destroyer, he 
found himself in command of an awkward, single- 
screw, disreputable-looking tramp, too slow almost to 
get out of her own way. On the other hand, officers of 


the Mercantile Marine, fresh from handhng freighters 
or Hners, in whom throughout all their lives had been 
instilled the maxim ' Safety first,' now found they had 
to court risks, look for trouble, and pretend they 
were not men-of-war. Q-ship work was, in fact, 
typical of the great upheaval which had affected the 
whole world. 

In some cases the transition was gradual. Some 
officers, having come from other ships to command 
sloops, found their aspirations satisfied not even in 
these ships, whose work went on unceasingly — escort- 
ing all but the fastest Altantic liners, patrolling, 
minesweeping, picking up survivors or salvaging 
stricken ships, or whatever duty came along. Trans- 
ferring as volunteers from sloops to sloops rebuilt as 
Q-ships, they had to forget a great deal and acquire 
much more. One of such officers was Lieut.-Com- 
mander W. W. Hallwright, R.N., who, after doing 
very fine work as captain of one of H.M. sloops 
based on Queenstown, took over command of the 
disguised sloop Heather (Q 16). One April day in 
1917, while cruising in the Atlantic about breakfast 
time, Heather was suddenly attacked by a submarine, 
whose sixth shot killed this keen officer, a piece 
of shell passing through his head whilst he was 
watching the movements of the German through 
a peep-hole on the starboard side of the bridge. 
Lieutenant W. McLeod, R.N.R., then took com- 
mand, opened fire, but the submarine dived and 
made off as usual. 

Other Q-ship captains perished, and that is all we 
know. On a certain date the ship left harbour ; per- 
haps a couple of days later she had reported a certain 
incident in a certain position. After that, silence ! 
Neither the ship nor any officers or crew ever returned 


to port, and one could but assume that the enemy 
had sent them to the bottom. In spite of all this, 
the number of volunteers exceeded the demand. 
From retired admirals downwards they competed 
with each other to get to sea in Q-ships. Bored 
young officers from the Grand Fleet yearning for 
something exciting ; ex-mercantile officers, yachts- 
men, and trawler men, they used every possible 
means to become acceptable, and great was their 
disappointment if they were not chosen. 



In the summer of 1914 I happened to be on a yacht- 
ing cruise in the English Channel. In July we had 
seen the Grand Fleet, led by Iron Ihike, clear out 
from Weymouth Bay for Spithead. In single line 
ahead the battle squadrons weighed and proceeded, 
then came the light cruisers, and before the last of 
these had washed the last ounce of dirt off her cable 
and steamed into position, the Iron Duke and Marl- 
borough were hull down over the horizon : it was the 
most wonderful sight I had ever witnessed at sea. 
A week or two later I had arrived in Falmouth, the 
war had begun, and yachting came to a sudden stop. 
One morning we found a new neighbour had arrived, 
a typical, foreign-built, three-masted schooner, who 
had just been brought in and anchored. She was 
destined to be an historic ship in more ways than 
one. Actually, she was the first prize to be captured 
fi'om Germany, and it was a unique sight then to 
see the White Ensign flying over German colours. 
Within four or five hours of declaration of war this 
craft had been captured at the western entrance ot 
the English Channel, and she never became German 

But she was to be historic in quite another way. 
Of all the splendid little Q-ships during the war, not 
excepting even the Mitchell mentioned in another 



chapter, no sailing craft attained such distinction, 
and her captain will be remembered as long as British 
naval history has any fascination. This German 
schooner was named the Else, and had been built of 
steel and iron in 1901 at Westerbrock, by the firm of 
Smit and Zoon, but registered at Leer, Germany. 
She was 112 feet 6 inches long, her net tonnage 
being 199. I can still see her disconsolate German 
skipper standing aft, and it must have grieved him 
that his ship was about to be taken from him for 
ever. For she was afterwards put up for auction 
and sold to the Marine Navigation Company, who, 
because of her experience already mentioned, changed 
her name from Ebe to Fii^st Prize. In November, 
1916, she was lying in Swansea, and as the Admiralty 
was looking out for a suitable vessel to carry out 
decoy work after the manner of Mitchell and Helgo- 
land, she was surveyed, found suitable, and requisi- 
tioned. A few weeks later the Managing Director 
of the Company patriotically decided to waive all 
payment for hire, and lent her to the Admiralty 
without remuneration. 

By February, 1917, this auxiliary topsail schooner 
was ready for sea as a disguised man-of-war, with a 
couple of 12-pounders cleverly concealed on her deck. 
She had changed her name from First Prize to Prize, 
alias Q 21, and in command of her went Lieutenant 
W. E. Sanders, R.N.R., whom we saw behaving with 
distinction when serving in the Q-sailing-ship Helgo- 
land. No better man could have been found than this 
plucky New Zealander, and he had already shown 
that he had a genius for this extra special type of 
Q-ship work. Prize had been sent to work in the 
western waters, and on April 26, 1917, she left Milford 
Haven for a cruise off the west coast of Ireland, this 


being the month when, of all months in the war, 
German submarines were the most successful. At 8.35 
on the evening of April 30, Prize was in Lat. 49.44 N., 
Long. 11.42 W. It was fine, clear, spring-like 
weather, with a light N.N.E. wind, calm sea, and 
good visibility. Prize was under all sail, steering on 
a north-west course, and making about 2 knots. Two 
miles away on her port beam, and steering a parallel 
course, was sighted a big submarine. This was U 93, 
a most modern craft, commanded by one of Germany's 
ablest submarine officers, Lieut. -Commander Freiherr 
von Spiegel. She was a powerful vessel, who had 
relieved U 43 on this station, and was over 200 feet 
long, armed with two 10'5-centimetre guns, 500 rounds 
of ammunition, and 18 torpedoes, her complement 
consisting of 37 officers and men. This latest sub- 
marine was on her maiden trip in the Atlantic, having 
left Emden on Friday, April 13. For those who are 
superstitious the day and the date will be interesting. 
She had had a most successful cruise, having sunk 
eleven merchantmen, and was now on her way back 
to Germany. Von Spiegel was anxious to be back 
home as soon as possible, for, be it said, he was 
certainly a sportsman, and he happened to have a 
couple of horses running in the Berlin races in the 
second week of May. 

The sighting of this little topsail schooner made 
him avaricious. He had sunk eleven : why not make 
the number a round dozen? So, at 8.45 p.m., he 
altered course towards the P?ize, and ordering on 
deck to see the fun all his men who could be spared, 
he opened fire with both guns. Lieutenant Sanders 
therefore brought Prize into the wind, and sent his 
panic party to row about. This party consisted of six 
men in charge of Skipper Brewer, of the Trawler 



Reserve, who had been intentionally visible on deck, 
and now launched their small boat. In the mean- 
time, at the sounding of the alarm, Lieutenant Sanders 
and Skipper Meade (also of the Trawler Reserve) had 
concealed themselves inside the steel companion-cover 
amidships, and the rest of the crew were hiduig under 
the protection of the bulwarks or crawling to their 
respective stations. Prize's two guns were placed 
one forward, concealed by a collapsible deckhouse, and 
one aft, on an ingenious disappearing mounting under 
the hatchway covers of the after hold, and she carried 
also a couple of Lewis guns. Lieutenant W. D. 
Beaton, R.N.R., who was second in command of the 
ship, was in charge of the gunnery forward, and lay 
at the foot of the foremast with his ear to a voice- 
pipe which led back to where Lieutenant Sanders 
was conning the ship. 

The contest could not fail to be interesting, for it 
resolved itself into a duel between one ' star-turn ' 
artist and another. Neither was a novice, both were 
resourceful, plucky men, and the incident is one of 
the most picturesque engagements of all the Q-ship 
warfare. Taking it for granted that this little trader 
out in the Atlantic was what she appeared to be, 
von Spiegel closed. Pi^izes head had now fallen off 
to the eastward, so the submarine followed her round, 
still punishing her with his shells, to make sure the 
abandon-ship evolution had been genuine. Two of 
these shells hit Prize on her waterline — you will 
remember she was built of iron and steel — penetrating 
and bursting inside the hull. One of them put the 
auxiliary motor out of action and wounded the motor 
mechanic : the other destroyed the wireless room and 
wounded the operator. That was serious enough, but 
cabins and mess-room were wrecked, the mainmast 


shot through in a couple of places, and the ship now 
leaking. Such was the training, such was the dis- 
cipline of these men under their gallant New Zealand 
captain, that, in spite of this nerve-wracking experi- 
ence, they still continued to remain on deck, immobile, 
unseen, until Lieutenant Sanders should give the 
longed-for word. They could see nothing, they could 
not ease the mental strain by watching the enemy's 
manoeuvres or inferring from what direction the next 
shot — perhaps the last — would come. This know- 
ledge was shared only by Lieutenant Sanders and 
Skipper JNleade as they peeped through the slits of 
their lair. Several times Sanders crept from this 
place on hands and knees along the deck, encouraging 
his men and impressing on them the necessity of 

Meanwliile, closer and closer drew the submarine, 
but the latter elected to remain dead astern, and this 
was unfortunate, for not one of Prizes guns would 
thus bear. Then there was a strange sound aft. 
Everyone knows that the inboard end of a patent 
log fits into a small slide, which is screwed down on 
to the tafFrail of a ship. Suddenly this slide was 
wrenched and splintered, for the enemy had got so 
close astern that she had fouled and carried away the 
log-line in her endeavour to make quite sure of her 
scrutiny. U 93 then, apparently convinced that all 
was correct, sheered out a little and came up on the 
schooner's port quarter only 70 yards away, being 
about to send her quickly to the bottom. 

Thus had passed twenty long, terrible minutes of 
suspense on board the Q-ship, and it was five minutes 
past nine. But patience, that great virtue of the 
really brave, had at length been rewarded. Through 
his steel slit Sanders could see that his guns would 


bear, so ' Down screens !' ' Open fire !' and up went 
the White Ensign. Covers and false deckhouses 
were suddenly collapsed, and the Prizes guns now 
returned the fire, as the pent-up feelings of the crew 
were able to find their outlet in fierce activity. But 
even as the White Ensign was being hoisted, the 
submarine fired a couple more shots, and the schooner 
was twice hit, wounding one of the crew who had 
rushed below to fetch from the bottom of the ladder 
a Lewis gun. Von Spiegel was now evidently very 
angered, for putting his helm hard aport he went full 
speed ahead to ram the schooner, and with that fine 
bow he might have made a nasty hole at the water- 
line, through which the sea would have poured like a 
waterfall. But he realized that he was outside his 
turning circle, so put his helm the other way and 
tried to make off. It was then that a shell from the 
Prize's after gun struck the forward gun of the sub- 
marine, blowing it to pieces, as well as the gun's crew. 
The second shot from the same British gun destroyed 
the conning-tower, and a Lewis gun raked the rest 
of the men on the deck. The third shot from Prize's 
after gun also hit so that she stopped, and as she sank 
shell after shell hit, and the glare was seen as of a fire 
inside the hull. At 9.9 p.m., after the Prize had fired 
thirty-six rounds, the enemy disappeared stern first. 
Lieutenant Sanders could not use his engines as they 
were already out of action, and there was practically 
no wind, so he could not go to the spot where she 
had last been seen. 

The darkness was fast falling, and the panic party 
in the boat rowed over the scene to search for any 
survivors, and picked up three. These were Von 
Spiegel, the submarine's captain, the navigating 
warrant officer, and a stoker petty officer. Covered 


by Skipper Brewer's pistol, these were now taken on 
board the schooner. But Prize herself was in a bad 
way. Water was pouring through the shell-holes, 
and, in spite of efforts to stop it, the sea was gaining 
all the time. Had it not been calm, the vessel would 
certainly have gone to the bottom. Von Spiegel, on 
coming aboard, offered his word of honour to make 
no attempt to escape, and undertook that he and his 
men would render all assistance. His parole being 
accepted, captors and captives set to work to save 
the ship. There was a possibility that another sub- 
marine known to be in the area would come along 
and finish off the sinking Prize, so all had more than 
an interest in the proceedings. 

As the ship was leaking so badly, the only thing 
to do was to list her. This was done by swinging 
out the small boat on the davits filled with water ; 
by passing up from below both cables on deck and 
ranging them on the starboard side ; by shifting coal 
from port to starboard and by emptying the port 
fresh-water tanks. By this means the shot-holes were 
almost clear of the water, though the crew had to 
continue baling night and day. Troubles never come 
singly. Here was this gallant little ship lying out 
in the Atlantic night, crippled and becalmed. An 
attempt was made to start the engines, but owing to 
sparks from the motor igniting the oil which had 
escaped from a damaged tank, a fire broke out in the 
engine-room. This was prevented from reaching the 
living quarters and magazine, and was eventually put 
out. Meanwhile, the German navigating warrant 
officer had dressed the wounds of Prize's wounded 
crew, and now, at 11.45 p.m., Prize's wounded stoker 
petty officer, assisted by the second motor-man and 
the German stoker petty officer, succeeded in starting 


one engine, and course was shaped for the Irish coast, 
all sail being set ; but the nearest land was 120 miles 
to the north-east. 

That night passed, and the next day, and the fore- 
noon of the day following ; but on the afternoon of 
May 2 the Irish coast was sighted, and Prize was 
picked up 5 miles west of the Old Head of Kinsale 
by H.M.M.L. 161 (Lieutenant Hannah, R.N.V.R.), 
who towed her into Kinsale, where the wounded 
were disembarked. On May 4 — that notable sunny 
day when the first United States destroyers reached 
Queenstown from America — Prize, still with her 
three German prisoners on board, left Kinsale Har- 
bour, towed by H.M. Drifter Rival II., who took 
her to Milford. But on the way Prize sighted a 
German mine-laying submarine on the surface 2 miles 
away to the southward. The crew therefore went to 
action stations, and for an hour the enemy steered on 
a parallel course, but finally the latter drew ahead 
and disappeared. Arrived in Milford the prisoners 
were taken ashore, and the Prize at length came to 

It has been told me by one who ought to know, 
that when Von Spiegel came aboard Prize, after being 
picked up out of the water, he remarked to Sanders : 
' The discipline in the German Navy is wonderful, 
but that your men could have quietly endured our 
shelling without reply is beyond all belief Before 
leaving the Prize he said good-bye to Sanders and 
extended an invitation to stay with him on his 
Schleswig-Holstein estate after the war. No one 
will deny the extraordinary gallantry ot Prize's crew 
and the heroic patience in withholding their fire until 
the psychological moment, though the temptation 
was very trying. To Lieutenant W. E. Sanders was 


awarded the Victoria Cross, and he was promoted to 
the rank of Temporary Lieut.-Commander, R.N.R. 
To Lieutenant W. D. Beaton, R.N.R., was awarded 
a D.S.O. ; the two skippers each received a D.S.C., 
and the rest of the brave ship's company the D.S.JNI. 
But the ending of this story is yet to be told. 
U 93 was not sunk, but got safely back to Germany ! 
Von Spiegel had thought she was sunk, and the crew 
of Prize were not less certain. She had been holed 
in her starboard ballast tank, in her starboard fuel 
tank, and her conning-tower, and she was assuredly 
in a very bad way. If it had been daylight she would 
most certainly have been finally destroyed ; as it was 
she was unable to dive, and escaped in the darkness 
deprived of her wireless. Sub-Lieutenant Ziegler 
took over the command, with one of his crew killed, 
three wounded, and three already taken prisoners. 
With the utmost difficulty, and compelled to navigate 
all the time on the surface, he managed to get his 
craft home. It was certainly a fine achievement ; the 
Kaiser was much impressed, and promoted him to 
lieutenant. But, at the time, we in this country had 
never supposed that any submarine could stand so 
much battering. It is interesting to bear this incident 
in mind when reading other accounts in this book, 
where it seemed so sure that the submarine must 
have been sunk : yet the greatest care has been taken 
to verify every enemy submarine sunk, and in each 
case the number has been given. But U 93 was 
doomed, and had not much longer to live after her 
refit. Early in the following January, one fine clear 
morning at a quarter past four, the time when human 
nature is at its weakest and most collisions occur at 
sea, this submarine was rammed by a steamer and sunk 
for the last time. 


After her very necessary refit, Lieut.-Commander 
Sanders still remained in the Prize. Admiral Jellicoe, 
First Sea Lord, had sent for him and offered him 
command of another ship : he could have had a 
destroyer, a P-boat, or any ship within reason, but 
his undaunted spirit, to which Lord Jellicoe on 
arriving in New Zealand after the war paid such 
high tribute, refused a safer appointment, and pre- 
ferred to carry on. 1 have been told by an officer 
who enjoyed Sanders' friendship and confidence at 
this time, that he went out to sea again with the 
consciousness that before long he would have played 
the live-bait game too far, and that the fish would 
get away with the bait. If that is true, then we 
must admire Sanders still more for his heroism in his 
devotion to duty. It is surely of this stuff that the 
great martyrs of Christendom have been made. 

On June 12, 1917 — that is, six weeks after the 
previous incident, just time enough to give leave to 
all the crew, get the ship refitted and sailed to her 
new area — Prize left Killybegs (Ireland) to cruise to 
the westward of the Irish coast. At 11 a.m. on this 
day she was under all sail on a N.N. W. course, doing 
not more than a knot through the water, when she 
sighted a submarine 1^ miles to the E.S.E. proceed- 
ing slowly on the same course as Prize. The move- 
ments of this submarine thereafter are worth noting. 
It is only reasonable to suppose that on his return to 
Germany in U 93 Ziegler would give a full description 
of the trap-ship which had so nearly destroyed him. 
This information would, of course, be passed on to 
the other submarine captains who frequented this 
Irish area, and we may be quite certain that they 
would be on the look-out for her, anxious to revenge 
their service. Now, in these modern times, and in 


any twenty-four hours, you will see far more steamers 
of all sorts than 200-ton sailing craft : it certainly was 
so during the war off the west and south-west coast 
of Ireland. During the years I was on patrol there, 
with the exception of quite small local fishing craft 
and an occasional full-rigged ship making the land 
after her voyage across the Atlantic, one scarcely ever 
sighted a sailing vessel of any kind. Ziegler would 
have reported in effect : ' Look out for a three-masted 
topsail schooner of about 200 tons. She has a bow 
like this . . ., her stern is like this . . ., and her 
sheer is so . . . You will probably find she has a dummy 
deckhouse placed here . . . ;' and a rough sketch 
would afford his comrades a pretty accurate idea. 
You cannot ever disguise the appearance of such a 
sailing ship altogether, no matter what name you 
give her, nor what colour you paint her hull. A 
three-masted topsail schooner is that and nothing 
else, and would henceforth be regarded with the 
utmost suspicion. Then, on comparing her with the 
sketch and examining her with the eye of seamanlike 
experience, no astute submarine officer could have 
had much doubt in his mind. A British officer who 
knew this ship well has told me that in his opinion 
there was one small detail, in respect of the wireless, 
which, to a careful observer, would always give her 
character away. This may be so : at any rate, the 
following incidents seem to indicate that the enemy 
were on the look-out for her during the rest of her 
career, and persistently attacked her. 

On the occasion of June 12, as soon as the sub- 
marine came to the surface and opened fire. Prize as 
usual, after the necessary intentional bungling, sent 
away her boat, which took up a position half a mile 
away on the starboard bow. The enemy kept on 


firing, and at 11.30 the schooner was hit twice, so 
three minutes later, as the enemy was turning away 
to increase the range, Sanders ordered the screens to 
be lowered, and opened fire from both starboard guns 
at 1,800 yards. One shell seemed to hit, and the 
enemy immediately dived. But two hours later a 
submarine was seen on the surface 4 miles away on 
the starboard quarter, and remained in sight for a 
quarter of an hour. Then next morning at 6.30 a 
submarine was sighted stopped, 1^ miles ahead on 
the surface. Five minutes later he dived, but came 
up after four minutes 1,500 yards off on the starboard 
bow. At 6.43 he again dived, and was not seen again. 
Probably eacli of these three appearances was the 
same submarine. On the first he was repulsed, on 
the second he would have a perfect opportunity of 
making a detailed sketch, on the third he may have 
been intending to attack by torpedo, but the westerly 
swell from the Atlantic possibly interfered with 
accurate firing. But, apart from all surmise, it is 
absolutely evident that the enemy was able to obtain 
a picture of the schooner, which beyond all doubt 
would establish her identity on a future occasion. 
The importance of this will presently be seen. 

For this action of June 12 Lieut. -Commander 
Sanders was given a D.S.O. to wear with his V.C. 
He had had a very trying time. When, at 11.30, 
the German shells had hit, the falls of the port davit 
had been shot away, and another shot had struck the 
ship on the starboard side amidships just on the top 
of the sheer strake plate. This shell had exploded 
and caused the ship to leak. Lieut. -Commander 
Sanders, who was lying concealed between the mast 
and the hatch, put up his arms to shield his face from 
the burst fragments and so received a piece of shell 


in his right arm above the wrist. In addition, the 
force of the explosion knocked him over and hurled 
him to the other side of the deck, where he was picked 
up by Skipper Mead. In spite of the pain and the 
shock, Sanders was just sufficiently conscious to give 
the order 'Action' at 11.33, when screens were 
downed. White Ensign run up, and fire was returned. 
The schooner came back to her base, her gallant 
captain recovered from his wound, and two months 
later we find her operating in the Atlantic again to 
the north-west of the N.W. Irish coast. On this 
occasion she was cruising with one of our D -class 
submarines, the idea being that when the enemy 
came along Prize would be attacked and heave-to in 
the customary manner, while the British submarine 
would stealthily make for the enemy and torpedo 
him whilst, so to speak, he was not looking. 

On the forenoon of August 13, imagine this 
schooner w4th her newly-painted black topsides and 
red boot-topping, flying the Swedish flag and heading 
east. Suddenly UB 48 was sighted to the north, so 
Sanders hove-to and signalled the British submarine 
that there was a German submarine to port. Shells 
began to be fired from the enemy, who closed. The 
British submarine saw the shots falling but could not 
see the enemy until 4.10 p.m., when the German 
was descried to starboard of the Prize. There was 
a considerable lop on at the time, and Prize was seen 
with White Ensign flying at the peak, and her guns 
manned. Five hours later the British submarine 
came to the surface and spoke Prize, who stated that 
she had opened fire on the enemy at 200 yards, and 
had hit him. This we now know from another source 
was perfectly true, but the hits were not in a vital 
part of the German. During the dark hours UB 48 


bided his time, and at midnight fired two torpedoes, 
the second of which hit, causing a terrific explosion, 
so that nothing more was seen, and the good ship 
Prhe, with her gallant captain and all his brave men, 
ended her career after one of the most brilliant 
periods that can be found in the records of sea 
achievement. UB 48 was on her maiden voyage 
from Germany via the north of Scotland and N.W. 
of Ireland to Cattaro in the Adriatic, where she 
arrived on September 2, sinking merchantmen on the 
way. This modern type of submarine, with her 
4 "1 -inch gun and her ten torpedoes, was a difficult 
craft to sink. Her second officer had been taken 
from the German Mercantile Marine, so we can 
assume that his critical eye would scrutinize the 
schooner and detect something which convinced his 
captain that this was really a trap-ship. That the 
submarine should have been content, whilst on a 
long passage, to waste so many hours over a mere 
sailing craft of quite small tonnage would have been 
doubtful ; but the Prize having once shown her 
White Ensign and used her guns to effect decided 
the German that she must be settled with after dark, 
when she would be a good target in that August 
night. It was a fair fight, but the chances were all 
in favour of the German, since it is practically im- 
possible to see a periscope at night, whereas the 
Q-ship's sails would loom up and show in which 
direction the target was heading ; and, further, the 
submarine had the advantage of mobility all the time. 
The facts which have just been stated are authentic, 
and it is as well that they should now be made known. 
Ignorance always breeds falsehood, and after the loss 
of P?ize there were all sorts of wild stories going 
about both in the Service and in the Mercantile 


Marine. Some of them are too ghastly to be related, 
but a favourite version was that the brave Sanders 
had been taken prisoner and lashed to the submarine's 
periscope, which then submerged and so drowned him. 
Another story, which was very prevalent, was that he 
had been cruelly murdered. There is not a wo.rd of 
truth in these suggestions. Lieut. - Commander 
Sanders died as he would have wished, aboard his 
ship with his men. His body rests in the Atlantic 
where the remains of his glorious Prize sank : but 
his memorial, unveiled by Lord Jellicoe as Governor 
of New Zealand, will inspire generations who come 

For dogged devotion to dangerous duty, for cool- 
ness in peril, for real leadership of men, for tenacity 
in ' sticking it,' this hero among those great and 
gallant gentlemen of the Q-ship service will remain 
as a model of what a true British sailor should be. 
Had he lived, his influence would have been tremen- 
dous, but by his refusing a safe billet when he was 
fully entitled to it, and preferring deliberately to 
court death because that way duty and honour 
pointed, his example should be a great source of 
strength to every young apprentice beginning his life 
in the Merchant Service, every midshipman of His 
Majesty's Navy, and every young man content to 
learn the lessons which are taught only by the sea. 
On land, for their historic exploits at the Dardanelles 
and in France we gratefully remember the Australians 
and New Zealanders. It is fitting that one of the 
latter should have bequeathed to us such distinction 
on the sea : it is characteristic of the great co-opera- 
tion when the children of the Empire flocked to help 
their mother in her throes of the World AVar. 



Independence of character is a great asset in any 
leader of men, but it is an essential, basic virtue when 
a man finds himself in command of a ship : without 
such an attribute he is dominated either by his 
officers, his own emotions, or the vagaries of chance. 
In the case of a Q-ship captain, this aloofness was 
raised to a greater degree of importance by reason of 
the special nature of the work. Can you think of 
any situation more solitary and lonely than this ? 
There are, of course, all kinds and conditions of 
loneliness. There is the loneliness of the airman 
gliding through celestial heights ; there is the loneli- 
ness of the man in the crowd ; there is the loneliness 
of the sentry, of the hermit, of the administrator in 
the desert. But I can conceive of nothing so solitary 
as the Q-ship captain lying alone on the planking of 
his bridge, patiently waiting and watching through a 
slit in the canvas the manoeuvres of an artful U-boat. 
Such a figure is morally and physically alone. He 
is the great brain of the ship ; at his word she is 
transformed from a tramp to a warship. It is he who 
has to take the fateful, and perhaps fatal, decision ; 
and to none other can he depute this responsibility as 
long as life lasts. Only a big character, strong and 
independent, can tackle such a proposition. Alone, 
too, he is physically. Most of his men have left the 



ship and are over there in the boats, sometimes 
visible on the top of the w^ave, sometimes obliterated 
in the trougli. The rest of his crew are somewhere 
below the bridge, under the bulwarks, at their guns, 
crouching out of sight. His officers are at their 
respective stations, forward, aft, and amidships, 
connected to him by speaking-tubes, but otherwise 
apart. He himself, arbiter of his own fate, his men, 
and his ship, has to fight against a dozen contending 
impulses, and refuse to be panic-stricken, hasty, or 
impetuous. This much is expected of him ; his crew 
are relying on him blindly, absolutely. However, by 
long years of experience and moulding of character 
he has learnt the power of concentration and of 
omitting from his imagination the awful possibilities 
of failure. Before putting to sea, and whilst on 
patrol, he has envisaged every conceivable circum- 
stance and condition likely to occur. He has 
mentally allowed for every move of the submarine, 
for the wounding of his own ship : and he has had the 
ship's action stations thus worked out. Accidents 
will, of course, occur to spoil any routine, though 
some of these, such as the breakdown of the wireless 
and the bursting of a gun, or the jamming of a screen, 
may be foreseen and allowed for. 

But after all that could be prepared for has been 
done, there always remains some awkward possibility 
which the wit of man can never foresee. Take the 
incident of the Q-ship Ravenstone, which was com- 
missioned as a Q-ship on June 26, 1917, under the 
name of Donlevon. A month later she was 
torpedoed one afternoon in the Atlantic, 40 
miles south of the Fastnet. Fortunately there were 
no casualties, and fortunately, too, the ship did not 
straight away founder. There was a heavy sea 


running, and she was soon down by the head ; but 
she was also prevented from using her engines, for the 
torpedo had struck her in No. 2 hold, and the force 
of the explosion had lifted and thrown overboard 
from the fore well-deck a 7-inch hemp hawser. This 
had fallen into the sea, floated aft, and there fouled 
the propeller so effectually that the ship could go 
neither ahead nor astern. It was a most annoying 
predicament, but who could have foreseen it ? The 
submarine apparently ' hopped it,' for she made no 
further attack, and one of Admiral Bayly's sloops, 
H.M.S. Camelia, stood by Donlevon, and from Bere- 
haven arrived the tug Flying Spray, who got her in 
tow. Another sloop, the Myosotis, had her in tow for 
thirty -one hours, handling her so well in the heavy 
sea that, in spite of Donlevon being down by the head 
and steering like a mad thing, she safely arrived in 
Queenstown, and was afterwards paid out of the 
Service. Ten thousand pounds' worth of damage had 
been done. 

In the early summer of 1917, at a time when the 
United States Navy had just begun to help us with 
their destroyers and the enemy was hoping very 
shortly to bring us ' to our knees,' we had thirteen 
different Q-ships based on Queenstown. There was 
the converted sloop Aubrietia, commanded by 
Admiral Marx, M.V.O., D.S.O., who, in spite ot 
his years, had come back to the Service and accepted 
a commission as captain R.N.R. For a time he was 
in command of H.M. armed yacht Beryl, owned by 
Lord Inverclyde. From this command he trans- 
ferred to the more exciting work of decoying sub- 
marines, and it is amusing when one thinks of an 
admiral pretending to be the skipper of a little 
tramp. Of this thirteen there was Captain Grenfell's 


Penskurst, about which the reader has already been 
informed. Captain Gordon Campbell was in Pargust, 
and Commander Leopold A. Bernays, C.M.G., was 
in Fala. The latter was one of the most unusual 
personalities in a unique service. Before the war he 
had left the Navy and gone to Canada, where he had 
some pretty tough adventures. On the outbreak of 
war he joined up, and crossed to England as a soldier, 
but managed to get transferred quite early to a mine- 
sweeping trawler, where he did magnificent work 
month after month ; first in sweeping up the mine- 
field laid off Scarborough at the time of the German 
raid, December, 1914, and afterwards in clearing up 
the difficult Tory Island minefield, which had been 
laid by Berlin in October, 1914, but was not rendered 
safe for many months afterwards. When in the 
summer of 1915 a British minesweeping force was 
required for Northern Russia, Bernays was sent out 
with his trawlers. Here, with his usual thoroughness 
and enthusiasm, he set to work, and again performed 
most valuable service, and buoyed a safe channel for 
the ships carrying munitions from England to voyage 
in safety. 

But Bernays was no respecter of persons, especially 
of those who were not keen on their job. With 
Russian dilatoriness and inefficiency, and in particular 
with the Russian admiral, he soon found himself 
exasperated beyond measure. His own trawlers 
were working in the most strenuous fashion, whereas 
the Russians seemed only to be thwarting instead of 
helping, and at any rate were not putting their full 
weight into the contest. 1 do not know whether the 
yarn about Bernays in exasperation pulling the beard 
of the overbearing Russian admiral is true, but there 
was a big row, and Bernays came back to England, 



though for his good work he received the coveted 
British order C.M.G. After further minesweeping 
off the Scotch coast, where once more he distinguished 
himself, he came to Queenstown to serve in his 
Q-ship. Here he went about his job in his usual 
fearless manner, and on one occasion had played a 
submarine as he used to play a fish. He had slowed 
down, and the U-boat was coming nicely within 
range, when just as everything was ready for the bait 
to be swallowed, up came a United States destroyer 
at high speed to ' rescue ' this ' tramp.' The sub- 
marine was frightened away , and Vala lost her fish 
Then one day Bernays took Vala on another cruise. 
What happened exactly we do not know, but evi- 
dently a submarine got her, and sank her without 
a trace, for neither ship nor crew was ever heard of 

Bernays was just the man for Q-ship work. He 
was one whom you would describe as a 'rough 
customer,' who might have stepped out of a Wild 
West cinema. A hard swearer in an acquired 
American accent, in port also a hard drinker ; but 
on going to sea he kept everything locked up, and 
not even his officers were allowed to touch a drop till 
they got back to harbour. The first time I met 
him was at :3 o'clock one bitterly cold winter's 
morning in Grimsby. It was blowing a gale of wind 
and it was snowing. Some of his minesweepers had 
broken adrift and come down on to the top of my 
craft, and were doing her no good. There was 
nothing for it but to rouse Bernays. His way of 
handling men, and these rough North Sea fishermen, 
was a revelation. It was a mixture of hard Navy, 
Prussianism, and Canadian ' get-to-hell-out-of-this- 
darned-hole.' There was no coaxing in his voice ; 


every syllable was a challenge to a fight. On the 
forebridge of his trawler he used to keep a bucket 
containing lumps of coal, and in giving an order 
would at times accentuate his forcible and coloured 
words by heaving a lump at any of his slow-thinking 

Having said all this, you may wonder there was 
never a mutiny ; but such a state of affairs was the 
last thing that could ever happen in any of Bernays' 
ships. From a weak man the crew would not have 
stood this treatment a day, but they understood 
him, they respected him, they loved him, and in his 
command of the English tongue they realized that 
he was like unto themselves, but more adept. Follow 
him ? They followed him everywhere — through the 
North Sea, through Russian and Irish minefields, 
and relied on him implicitly. And this regard was 
mutual, for in spite of his rugged manner Bernays 
had a heart, and he thought the world of his crew. 
I remember how pleased he was the day he was 
ordered to go to the dangerous Tory Island mine- 
field. ' But I'm not going without my old crew ; 
they're the very best in the world.' Bernays, as 
an American officer once remarked, ' certainly was 
some tough proposition,' but he knew no cowardice ; 
he did his brave duty, and he rests in a sailor's grave. 

Another of these thirteen was the converted sloop 
Begonia, commanded by Lieut. -Commander Basil 
S. Noake, R.N., an officer of altogether different 
temperament. Keen and able, yet courteous and 
gentle of manner, tall, thin, and suffering somewhat 
from deafness, this gallant officer, too, paid the great 
penalty. For Begonia was destined to have no 
ordinary career. Built as a minesweeping sloop, she 
carried out escort and patrol work until one day she 


was holed, but managed to get into Queenstown. 
Here she was repaired and transformed into a decoy, 
with a counter added instead of her cruiser stern, and 
with the addition of derricks and so on she was a 
very clever deception. During one cruise she was 
evidently a victim to the enemy, for she disappeared, 

The remaining ships of this thirteen were the Acton 
(Lieut-Commander C.N. Rolfe,R.N.),Z2///?//rt(Lieut.- 
Commander John K. McLeod, R.N.), Cullist (Lieut- 
Commander S. H. Simpson, D.S.O., R.N.), Tamarisk 
(Lieut. - Commander John W. Williams, D.S.O., 
R.N.R.), Viola (Lieut-Commander F. A. Frank, 
D.S.O., R.N.R.), Salvia (Lieut. - Commander W. 
Olphert, D.S.O., D.S.C., R.N.R.), Laggan (Lieu- 
tenant C. J. Alexander, R.N.R.), and Heather 
(Lieutenant Harold Auten, R.N.R.). In this list 
there is scarcely a name that did not receive before 
the end of the war at least one D.S.O., while two 
of them received the Victoria Cross. 

Acton had an indecisive duel with a submarine on 
August 20, 1917. It was a fine day with a calm sea 
when the enemy was sighted, and on being attacked 
Acton abandoned ship. In order to make this doubly 
real, fire-boxes were started in the well-deck, and 
steam leakage turned on, which made the ship look 
as if she were on fire. The enemy inspected the ship 
closely, so closely in fact that he actually collided 
with Acton, shaking the latter fore and aft. But 
after he had come to the surface and Acton opened 
fire, hitting, loud shouts came from the conning- 
tower, and he submerged, thus escaping. Acton 
went on with her work until the end of hostilities. 

Zylplia and Cullist both had tragic ends to their 
careers. Zylpha was a 2,917-ton steamer, built at 


Sunderland in 1894, and had been commissioned as a 
Q-ship as far back as October, 1915. Early in June, 
1917, she steamed along the south Irish coast and then 
out into the Atlantic, as if bound for New York. On 
June 11, at 9.45 a.m., when about 200 miles from 
the Irish coast, she was torpedoed by a submarine 
that was never seen again, and totally disabled. Her 
engines had stopped for the last time, and the sea 
had poured in, though her closely-packed cargo of 
wood was at present keeping her afloat. Having 
' bleated ' with her wireless, one of the United States 
destroyers, based on Queenstown, proceeded to her 
assistance. This was the Warrington, and she stood 
by the ship for a whole tv>^enty-four hours — ^from 
2 p.m. of the eleventh until 2.30 p.m. of the twelfth. 
By the time Warrington had arrived Zylplms engine- 
room and boiler-rooms were already awash, Nos. 2 
and 3 holds flooded, the wireless out of action, and 
one man killed. The Warrington kept patrolling 
round her, requested a tug by wireless, and went on 
zigzagging through the long hours. By the evening 
Zylplia was in a bad way, and the Atlantic swell was 
seriously shaking the bulkheads, but she was still 
afloat next morning. By this time the Waiiington, 
who had been some time on patrol, was running short 
of oil, so, at 2.30 p.m., regretfully had to return to 
harbour for fuel. 

This was a sad blow to the Zyljiha people, but 
whilst waiting for the arrival of the U.S. destroyer 
Lh^ayton and two Queenstown tugs which were being 
sent to her, Zylpha actually made sail with what little 
canvas she had, and made good at 1|^ knots. At noon 
of the fourteenth she was picked up by H.M. sloop 
Daffodil, and was then taken in tow. Next day, at 
1 p.m., tugs reached her, but she could not last out 


the night, and, after having been towed for most of 
200 miles, she gradually sank when quite near to the 
west coast, finally disappearing at 11.20 p.m. near the 
Great Skelligs. So ended ZylpJia. 

Cullist was commanded by an officer who had served 
a long time off this coast in a sloop. Her real name 
was the IVestphalia, but she was also known as the 
Jurassic, Hay ling, and Prim. She was of 1,030 gross 
tons, and in the spring of 1917 was lying at Calais, 
when she was requisitioned and sent to Pembroke 
Naval Dockyard to be fitted out. She was commis- 
sioned on May 12 by Lieut.-Commander Simpson, 
and Admiral Bayly then sent her to cruise along 
certain trade routes. She was capable of steaming 
about 10 knots, and was armed with a 4-inch and 
two 12-pounder guns, as w^ell as a couple of torpedo- 
tubes, and all these had been well concealed. A 
few weeks later, on July 13, Cullist was between the 
Irish and French coasts, and it was just after 1 p.m. 
when a submarine appeared on the horizon. 

About two minutes later the enemy from very long 
range opened fire, but as his shots were falling about 
3,000 yards short, he increased speed towards the 
Cullist. By 1.30 a large merchant ship was seen 
coming up from the south, so Cullist hoisted the 
signal ' You are standing into danger,' whereupon the 
big steamer altered course away. Cullist then zig- 
zagged, keeping always between sun and enemy, and 
by dropping eight smoke-boxes at various intervals 
succeeded in enticing the submarine down to a range 
of 5,000 yards, a distance which was maintained for 
the rest of the action. From 1.45 the enemy con- 
tinually straddled Cullist so that the decks were wet 
with the splashes, and shell splinters were rattling on 
masts and deck. By 2.7 the enemy had fired sixty- 


eight rounds, but had not hit once. Cullist now 
decided to engage, and her third round was seen to 
hit just below the submarine's gun, the remainder 
hitting regularly along the deck and on the conning- 
tower, causing bright red flames which rose higher 
than the conning- tower. Three minutes after Cullist 
had opened fire the enemy sank by the bows in 
flames, and then the ship steamed to the spot and 
dropped a depth charge. Three of Cullisfs crew saw 
a corpse dressed in blue dungarees, floating face up- 
wards, but the submarine was never seen again. By 
3.30 H.M.S. Christopher arrived on the scene and 
both ships searched for the enemy. He was evidently 
seriously damaged, but he had made his escape. 
Lieut.-Commander Simpson, for this engagement, 
was awarded a D.S.O ; Lieutenant G. Spencer, 
R.N.II., a D.S.C. ; Sub-Lieutenant G. H. D. Double- 
day, R.N.R., also a D.S.C. ; while two other officers 
were ' mentioned.' 

Cullisfs next adventure was on August 20 in the 
English Channel, when she was shelled for most of 
two and a half hours at long range, during which the 
submarine expended over eighty rounds with only 
one hit. This, however, had penetrated the waterline 
of the stokehold, injuring both firemen who happened 
to be on watch, and causing a large rush of water into 
the stokehold. By plugging the hole and shoring it 
up this defect was for the present made good. At 
7.25 p.m., inasmuch as the light was fading and the 
enemy declined to come nearer than 4,000 yards, 
Cullist started shelling and seemed to make two 
direct hits on the base of the conning-tower. This 
was enough for the German, who then dived very 
rapidly and made off. Cullist was practically un- 
injmed, for the only other hits on her had been that 


the port depth charge had been struck with shell 
splinters and the patent log-line had been shot away. 
But on the eleventh of the following February a 
much more serious attack was made, and this illus- 
trates the statement that suddenly without the 
slightest warning a Q-ship might find herself in the 
twinkling of an eye changed from an efficient man- 
of-war into a mere wreck. Cullist at the time was 
steaming on a southerly course down the Irish Sea, 
Kingstown Harbour being to the westward. The 
officer of the watch and the look-out men were at 
their posts, and Lieut. -Commander Simpson was 
walking up and down the deck. Suddenly, from 
nowhere, the track of a torpedo was seen approaching, 
and this struck the ship between the engine-room and 
No. 3 hold. Lieut.-Commander Simpson was hurled 
into the air and came down on to the edge of the 
deck with a very painful arm. Realizing the con- 
dition of the Cullist, he ordered his men to abandon 
ship, but such was the zeal of the crew in remaining 
at action stations until the last moment that many of 
them were drowned : for in less than two minutes 
Cullist had gone to the bottom. This part of the 
Irish Sea then consisted of a number of Englishmen 
swimming about or keeping alive on a small Carley 
float. The submarine when half a mile astern of 
where Cullist sank, came to the surface and rapidly 
approached. Then she stopped, picked up two men, 
inquired for the captain, examined survivors through 
glasses, and having abused them by words and 
gestures, made off to the southward. After swimming 
about for some time, Lieut.-Commander Simpson 
was then pulled on to the Carley float, which is a 
special kind of raft, very shallow, painted Navy grey, 
and usually supplied with a paddle such as you find 


in a Canadian canoe. It was a bleak February after- 
noon, and here were a few men able to keep from 
death by joining hands on this crowded raft. As the 
hours went on, the usual trying thirst assailed them 
and the fatal temptation to drink the sea-water, but 
the captain wisely and sternly prevented this. How 
long they would be left crowded in this ridiculous 
raft, cold and miserable, no one knew : it was 
obvious that human strength could not last out 

But just as it was getting dusk, about 6 p.m., a 
trawler was seen. Relief at last ! Someone who 
held the Canadian paddle kept it high to make it more 
easy for the trawler to recognize them. It was a 
patrol trawler, for the gun was visible ; in a few 
moments they would be rescued. But just then 
these sopping-wet survivors were horrified to see the 
trawler manning her gun and laying it on to the raft. 
What hideous mistake was this ? ' Sing at the top 
of your voices.' So they sang ' Tipperary ' with all 
the strength they had left. Then a slight pause was 
followed by the trawler dismissing the gun's crew and 
coming towards them as quickly as her engines would 
go round. The survivors were picked up and taken 
into Kingstown, where they landed about 10 p.m., 
and none too soon for some of them. By the time 
they were in hospital they were almost done. But 
what was the trawler's explanation ? She had sighted 
something in the half-light which resembled a sub- 
marine, and on examining it again it still more 
resembled such a craft. There was the conning- 
tower painted grey, and there was the periscope too. 
It was only when the unmistakable sound of British 
voices chanting ' Tipperary ' reached their ears that 
they looked again and found that the 'periscope' was 


the Canadian paddle, and the ' conning-tower ' was 
the men Hnked together imposed on the grey Carley 

But it had been a near thing ! 

Even more varied was the career of the Privet 
(ahas Island Queen, Q 19, Szvisher, and Alcala). 
This was a small steamer of 803 tons, which had 
begun her service in December, 1916, her captain 
being Lieut. -Commander C. G. Matheson, R.N.R. 
On the following twelfth of March she was on 
passage from Land's End to Alderney, and was 
steaming at 9 knots, when just before three in the 
afternoon a torpedo was seen to pass under the ship 
at the engine-room. Privet was presently shelled by 
the submarine, who rose to the surface on the star- 
board side aft, the first nine rounds hitting Privet five 
times. One of these rounds burst among the ' aban- 
don ship ' party, causing many casualties and destroy- 
ing the falls of both boats. Privefs hull had been 
badly holed, and she was compelled to send out a 
wireless S.O.S. signal, stating that her engines were 
disabled, but two minutes later she opened fire with 
her port battery — she was armed with four 12- 
pounders — and during the first seven rounds the 
enemy received punishment, being hit abreast the 
fore part of the conning-tower, and twice well abaft 
the conning-tower. The German now tried to escape 
by submerging, but evidently he found his hull 
leaking so badly that he was seen trying to reach the 
surface again by using his engines and hydroplanes. 
Thus Privet managed to get in a couple more hits 
and then the U-boat disappeared stern first at an 
angle of forty-five degrees. Privet in this manner 
had definitely sunk U 85, belonging to the biggest 
U- class submarines, 230 feet long, armed with two 
guns and twelve torpedoes. The whole incident, 


from the moment the torpedo was fired to the 
destruction of the attacker, had covered forty- 
minutes ; but now, ten minutes later, Privefs 
engine-room was reported to be filHng up with 
water owing to one of the enemy's shells getting 
home. Twenty minutes later the chief engineer 
reported that the water was now over the plates 
and rising. Efforts were made to plug the hole with 
hammocks and timber, but this was found impossible, 
and this small ship, in spite of her victory, was in 
great peril. After another few minutes the men and 
wounded were ordered into the lifeboat and skiff, for 
the engine-room was full of water and the after bulk- 
head might give way suddenly any minute. Half an 
hour later this actually happened, but by this time 
the two British destroyers Christopher and Orestes 
had arrived on the scene. 

Privet was in a pitiable condition, and, after throw- 
ing overboard confidential books and rendering the 
depth charges safe, she was finally abandoned, though 
she did not at once sink. In fact, an hour and a 
half later she was still afloat ; so Lieut. -Commander 
JNlatheson, his officers, a seaman, and a working party 
from Orestes went back on board her, and within an 
hour Orestes had begun to tow her under great 
difficulties. However, everything went fairly well 
until they were approaching Plymouth Sound, when 
Privefs last bulkheads collapsed, and she started now 
to settle down quickly. This was rather hard luck, 
having regard to what she had gone through, but 
there was no mistake about it, she was sinking fast. 
Those in charge of her are to be congratulated, for 
they were able just in time to get her into shoal water, 
and she sank in only 4j fathoms opposite the Pickle- 
comb Fort, and that closed chapter one in her not 
uninteresting career. 


From this position she was very soon raised, taken 
into Devonport, and recommissioned at the end of 
April. Thus, having sunk a submarine and herself 
being sunk, she returned to the same kind of work, 
and actually succeeded in sinking another submarine 
on the night of November 8-9, 1918, this being the 
last to be destroyed before Armistice. The incident 
occurred in the Mediterranean and the submarine was 
U 34. Truly a remarkable career for such a small 
steamer, but a great tribute to all those brains and 
hands who in the first instance fitted her out, fought 
in her, got her into Plymouth Sound, salved her, 
fitted her out again, took her to sea, and undauntedly 
vanquished the enemy once more ! In the whole 
realm of naval history there are not many ships that 
can claim such a record against an enemy. 

Another trying incident was that which occurred 
to the 1,295-ton steamer Mavis (alias Q 26 and 
Nyroca), armed with a 4-inch and two 12-pounders. 
This vessel had been fitted out at Devonport, her 
Merchant Service cranes being landed and replaced by 
dummy derricks. The hatches to her holds were 
plated over, access to the same being provided by 
manholes. In order to give her the maximum 
chance should she ever be torpedoed, she was bal- 
lasted with closely packed firewood ; and only those 
who have seen torpedoed ships carrying a cargo of 
timber can realize for what a long time such an 
apparently sinking ship will keep afloat, though 
necessarily deep in the water. I remember, during 
the war, the case of a steamer torpedoed off Brow 
Head (south-west Ireland) after she had just arrived 
from across the Atlantic. She was deserted by her 
crew, the sea was over the floors of her upper-deck 
cabins, and she was obviously a brute to steer in such 


an unseaworthy condition, but with great difficulty 
and some patience we managed to tow her into port, 
where, owing to her sinking condition, she drew so 
much water that she touched the ground every low 
tide. But she was salved and eventually patched up. 
It was her timber cargo which had kept her afloat 
just long enough, and inasmuch as ship and freight 
were worth no less than £250,000, this was more 
than worth while. So it was with Mavis. 

On the last day of May, 1917, under command of 
Commander Adrian Keyes, R.N., this Q-ship had left 
Devonport to cruise in the Atlantic. At 6.45 a.m. 
on June 2 she sighted a ship's lifeboat coming along 
under sail and found it contained three men who 
were in a very exhausted condition. These w^ere the 
survivors from the Greek S.S. A^. Hadziaka, which 
had been torpedoed and sunk a little further to the 
westward. This torpedoing had occurred in a heavy 
sea, and in lowering away the boats, one of them had 
been smashed and the other swamped. The captain 
and twenty-two men had clung to the wreckage when 
the German submarine broke surface, approached, 
but made no attempt at rescue, and then went 
away. For forty-eight hours these wretched men 
kept more or less alive in the water and then gradu- 
ally dropped off one by one until only three remained. 
These then managed to patch one boat, upright her, 
bale her out, and make sail. They had been saihng 
for ten hours during the night when they had the 
good luck to be picked up by Mavis, having been 
flfty-eight hours without food or water. 

Having rescued them. Mavis continued on her 
western course, but after dark turned east, setting a 
course to pass 10 miles south of the Lizard. During 
the following day she passed through considerable 


wreckage. At 9.45 p.m. she was 20 miles south of the 
Wolf Rock when a torpedo was seen to break surface 
40 yards from the ship on the starboard beam. It 
struck Mavis abreast of the engine-room and pene- 
trated the side, so that the ship stopped at once, and 
both engine-room and boiler-room were flooded. It 
was impossible to send out a wireless call, as the 
emergency apparatus had been wrecked too, but three 
rockets were flred and eventually the destroyer Chris- 
topher came up, followed later by the trawler White- 
fiiars and several tugs. Then began the difficult 
and slow process of towing, and they got her just 
inside Plymouth Sound, but by this time she was in 
such a crank condition that it was feared she might 
capsize, so they managed to beach her in Cawsand 
Bay on the west side of the Sound. It was her ballast 
of firewood that had saved her from total loss, and for 
this both British and Greeks must have felt more 
than thankful. 

Another incident, which well illustrates the risks 
run by these Q-ships, is now to be related. Among 
those officers who had retired from the Service and 
come back after the outbreak of war was Commander 
W. O'G. Cochrane, R.N., who for part of the war 
was captain of one of the sloops off the south of 
Ireland. In the spring of 1917 1 well remember the 
very excellent sport we had in company, but in 
separate ships, exploring and destroying the mine- 
fields laid by the enemy submarines right along the 
whole south coast from Cape Clear to the Old Head 
of Kinsale. At the beginning of the following 
November, Commander Cochrane left Devonport in 
command of the Q-ship Candytuft, together with 
a convoy of merchant ships bound for Gibraltar. 
Candytuft was disguised to represent a tramp steamer, 

Q-suip "Candytuft" 

This Q-ship had the misfortune to be attacked by a submarine who used torpedoes 
to blow both the bow and stern off the Q-ship. The " Candytuft "" was afterwards 

beached on the North African coast. 

To face p. 174 


and on the eighth, when in the vicinity of Cape 
St. Vincent, had an encounter with a submarine, in 
which the usual tactics were employed. One of the 
enemy's shells struck the Q-ship's bridge, exploding 
under the bunk in Captain Cochrane's cabin, wrecking 
the wireless and steering-gear. Candytuft was able 
to fire three shots, but the enemy disappeared, made 
off, and was never seen by the Q-ship again. 

After having been repaired at Gibraltar, Candytuft 
left in company with the merchant ship Tremayne for 
Malta. This was on November 16. Two days later 
they were off Cap Sigli, when a torpedo crossed 
Tremayne s bows, but struck Candytuft on the star- 
board quarter, entirely blowing off the ship's stern 
and killing all the officers excepting Captain 
Cochrane and Lieutenant Phillips, R.N.R., who 
was on the bridge, but very badly wounding 
Lieutenant Errington, R.N.R. 

Vi^ith sound judgment and true unselfishness 
Captain Cochrane now ordered Tremayne to make 
for Bougie as fast as she could, and in the meantime 
the Q-ship hoisted her foresail to assist the ship to 
drift inshore. Most of the ship's company were sent 
away in boats, only sufficient being kept aboard to 
man the two 4-inch guns, and everyone kept out of 
sight. Within half an hour a periscope was seen 
by Captain Cochrane, concealed behind the bridge 
screens. A periscope is a poor target, but it was 
fired at, though ineffectually. On came the torpedo, 
striking Candytuft just foreward of the bridge, com- 
pletely wrecking the fore part of the ship. This 
explosion wounded several men in a boat, covered 
the bridge with coal barrows and other miscellaneous 
wreckage, blew a leading-seaman overboard — happily 
he was picked up unhurt— blew Captain Cochrane up 


also, but some of the falling wreckage struck him on 
the head, knocked him back inboard, and left him 
staggering off the bridge. 

Presently the ship gave a sudden jerk, and rid her- 
self of her bow, which now floated away and sank. 
Candytuft drifted towards the African shore, and 
after the captain and one of his crew had gallantly 
closed the watertight door at the foreward end of the 
mess-deck, up to their middles in water and working 
in almost complete darkness, with tables and other 
articles washing about, it became time for these last 
two to leave the ship. They were taken off by a 
French armed trawler and landed at Bougie. 
Candytuft, minus bow and stern, drifted ashore on to 
a sandy beach, and eventually the two 4-inch guns 
were salved. Lieutenant Errington had died before 
reaching land, and the wounded had to be left in 
hospital. But afterwards some of Candytuft's crew 
went to sea in another Q-ship, and so the whole 
gallant story went on. Ships may be torpedoed, 
but, like the soldiers, sailors never die. They keep 
on ' keeping on ' all the time, as a young seaman once 
was heard to remark. 

Q-SHip "Candytuft" 

This shows some of the damage done by the enemy submarine's torpedo. She is 
Iving beached and one of the guns is being salved and lowered down the side. 

To face p. 176 



If, in accordance with the dehghtful legend, Drake 
during the recent war had heard the beating of his 
drum and had ' quit the port o' Heaven,' come back 
to hfe again in the service of his Sovereign and 
country, he would assuredly have gone to sea in 
command of a Q-sailing-ship. His would have been 
the Victoria Cross and D.S.O. with bars, and we can 
see him bringing his much battered ship into Ply- 
mouth Sound as did his spiritual descendants in the 
Great War. And yet, witii all the halo of his name, 
it is impossible to imagine that, great seaman as he 
was, his deeds w^ould be more valiant than those we 
are now recording. 

If we had, so to speak, put the clock back by the 
re-introduction of the fighting sailing ship, it was 
an anachronism that was well justified by results. 
INlore of these craft and various rigs were still being 
taken up. In the spring of 1917 the topsail schooner 
Dargle was requisitioned, fitted out at Granton with 
a 4-inch and two 12-pounders, and then sent to 
Lerwick, whence she operated. Similarly the ketch 
George L. Mui?^ (alias G. L. Mu?iro, G.L.M., and 
Padre), which was accustomed to trade between Kirk- 
wall and the Firth of Forth, was chartered and armed 
with a 12-pounder. 

On April 22,1917, the 174-ton auxiliary barquentine 

177 12 


Gaelic (otherwise known as Brig 11, Gobo, and 
Q 22), which had been taken up at the end of 1916, 
and was armed with a couple of 12-pounders, had a 
very plucky fight. She had left Falmouth on the 
nineteenth under the command of Lieutenant G. 
Irvine, R.N.R., and at 6.30 p.m. w^as now 48 miles 
south of the Old Head of Kinsale, steering S.E. under 
all fore-and-aft sail. It was a fine, clear day, the sea 
was calm, there was little wind, but the ship was 
making about 2 knots under sail and starboard motor. 
It was a quiet Sunday evening : one of those gentle 
spring days which came gladly to the Irish coast after 
the long nights and continuous gales of the dark 
wdnter. The watch, consisting of four men, were all 
aloft getting in the square sails, when one of them 
hailed the deck that he could see a submarine about 
four points on the starboard bow. She was distant 
about 5,000 yards to the southward and steering to 
the N.W. at slow speed. 

Hands were called down from aloft immediately, 
and action stations sounded on the alarm gong. The 
enemy began the tactics of keeping well away from 
the ship and firing shell after shell, of which six hit 
the Gaelic, killing two of the deckhands and wound- 
ing four, besides putting the port motor out of action 
and seriously damaging the rigging. For a time both 
vessels maintained their respective courses, and when 
the enemy was bearing a couple of points abaft Gaelics 
starboard beam, the sailing ship unmasked her guns 
and opened fire. It was now 6.50; the enemy had 
already fired twenty rounds, but as soon as the attack 
was returned he altered course and despatched a tor- 
pedo at 4,000 yards. This luckily Gaelic was able 
to avoid in time by starboarding her helm so that the 
torpedo missed by about 150 yards, passing parallel 


along the starboard side. Gaelic s forward gun had 
now fired three shots, but her fourth hit the submarine. 
By a piece of bad luck, soon after this, the firing pin 
of the port forward gun broke and the gun was tem- 
porarily out of action, so Gaelic had to be brought 
round until the starboard guns would bear. Thus 
the fight went on until 7.20 p.m., when the enemy 
came round under port helm and started to move 
slowly away to the S. W., still firing. Another trouble 
now occurred in the barquentine. One of the shells 
had caused the fresh-water tank on deck to leak. 
This water then came through a hole in the deck on 
to the starboard engine, putting it out of action, and 
so with both engines useless and no wind the unfor- 
tunate Gaelic could not be manoeuvred, though the 
guns continued to bear. Firing was maintained and 
two more hits were scored on the German target. 
About eight o'clock the submarine ceased fire, ported 
his helm, headed towards the barquentine, and ten 
minutes later, the range being still 4,000 yards, Gaelic 
hit him again. This was the end of the action, each 
craft having fired about 110 rounds. It seems pretty 
certain that though the submarine was not sunk she 
was badly knocked about, for she broke off the 
engagement and dived. A hand was sent aloft who 
reported that he could distinctly see the submarine 
below making to the south-east. Gaelic did her best 
to follow, but by this time darkness was rapidly 
setting in, so with both motors useless, sails and 
rigging also in a dreadful condition, she set a course 
for the Old Head of Kinsale, and at daybreak, when 
10 miles short of that landfall, was picked up by 
H.M. sloop Bluebell and towed into Queenstown. 
She was then refitted and eventually went out to the 
Mediterranean, being based on Gibraltar. 


Allusion has been made in another chapter to the 
auxiliary schooner Glen (aUas Sidney and Athos), 
which began her special service on April 5, 1917, 
under Lieutenant R. J. Turnbull, R.N.R. On 
May 17 she had a most successful duel, in which she 
managed to sink the small UB 39, one of those 
submarines about 121 feet long, and possessing 
extreme surface speed of 8^ knots, which, armed 
with one gun and four torpedoes, used to come out 
from Zeebrugge, negotiate the Dover Straits — for 
which she was fitted with a net-cutter at the bows — 
and then operate in the English Channel. The enemy's 
gun was a 22-pounder ; Glen carried a 12-pounder 
and a 3-pounder. It was six o'clock in the evening, 
and Glen was about 35 miles south of the Needles, 
steering north-east, close hauled on the starboard 
tack, the wind being E. by S., force 4. There was a 
moderate sea on, and the ship was bowling along 
under all sail. Suddenly out of nowhere a shot was 
heard, and five minutes later could be seen the flash 
of a second, and UB 39 was sighted to the south- 
ward, 2^ miles away. Gle7i therefore backed her 
fore-yard, and eased away all sheets, so as to check 
her way. The submarine then ceased firing, but her 
captain must have been one of those less experienced 
men, who were characteristic of the later stages of 
the war, and did foolish things ; for he was indis- 
creet enough in this case to close scliooner, who then 
'abandoned ship.' On came the German and sub- 
merged when 800 yards ofi^ until only her periscope 
and part of her bridge dodger were showing. Still 
she approached until now she was only 200 yards 
distant, steering a course parallel with the schooner 
on the latter's starboard side. All this happened so 
quickly that the ' panic party ' were just leaving the 



ship, when UB 39 rose to the surface just abaft the 
schooner's beam, and now only 80 yards off. For 
such temerity the German, who must have been 
amazingly credulous, paid with his life. Lieutenant 
Turnbull gave the order for ' action,' and within five 
seconds the first shot from the 12-pounder was fired, 
wliich fell over the submarine abaft the conning- 
tower. The enemy was evidently quite surprised, 
for the hatch in the conning-tower was now opened, 
and there appeared the head and shoulders of a man 
who seemed dazed, and as the second 12-pounder 
shell came bursting on the hull under the conning- 
tower this man apparently fell back down the hatch. 

The submarine now commenced to dive, and as 
the stern rose out of the water the third and fourth 
shots from the same gun burst on the after part of 
the hull in the middle line, the holes made by these 
three shots being plainly visible to those in the 
schooner. The 3-pounder had also come into action, 
and out of six rounds the second shot had hit the 
hull on the water-line forward of the conning-tower, 
the third had hit her on the water-line under the 
gun, the fourth and fifth bursting on the after part of 
the hull just as she was sinking, and the sixth burst- 
ing on the water as her stern disappeared. Badly 
holed, leaking from all these holes, UB 39 Hsted over 
to port towards the schooner, vanished from sight 
for evermore, and then a large quantity of oil 
and bubbles came to the surface. There were no 

Having definitely disposed of the enemy, it would 
be reasonable for the crew of the Glen to feel elated ; 
but just as UB 39 was finally disappearing, another 
submarine was seen approaching about 4,000 yards off 
on the starboard bow. Glen opened fire and the enemy 


submerged, only to reappear about 600 yards away 
on the port bow. Glen fired once more, and next 
time the submarine appeared a few minutes later on 
the port quarter 1,000 yards off. This was happen- 
ing while the ' panic party ' were being got on board 
again, and thus there was every risk of being tor- 
pedoed ; but Glen then proceeded on a northerly 
course under sail and motor, and at 7.30 p.m. a very 
large submarine was observed 2 miles away on the 
starboard beam, heading in about the same direction. 
After ten minutes this submarine opened fire, then 
turned to pass astern, and continued firing with both 
her guns, which Glen answered with both of hers. 
About 8 p.m. the duel ceased ; the enemy disappeared 
to the west on the look-out evidently for a less 
obstinate ship. If you examine the positions on the 
chart you will realize that the enemy submarines 
were evidently concentrated in mid-Channel in order 
to entrap shipping coming up and down and across 
the English Channel. They were so placed as to cut 
the lines of communication to Cherbourg and at the 
same time have a good chance of bagging some liner 
bound up along. 

This concentration at important centres was 
noticeable during the submarine campaign ; in fact, 
but a few weeks later Glen was again engaged with an 
enemy in the same vicinity. This was on June 25, 
the exact position was 14 miles S. by W. of St. 
Catherine's Point, and the schooner was sailing close 
hauled on the starboard tack, heading S.W. by S., 
doing her 2 knots, when she sighted a vessel 
apparently under sail on her port quarter 4 miles 
distant. Presently this vessel fired at her, the shot 
falling 1,000 yards short. This, of course, was a 
submarine, and it was a not unusual thing to attempt 


disguise by this means ; for obviously a low-lying 
craft on the surface viewed from a distance would 
create suspicion. But, parenthetically, it may be 
mentioned that this sail device was not always carried 
out with common sense, and I remember on one 
occasion a submarine giving himself hopelessly away 
by motoring at good speed in the eye of the wind 
with his sail of course shaking wildly. Such an 
unseamanlike act was at once spotted by the nearest 
patrol, and the submarine had to dive so hurriedly 
that she left the sail on the water. 

In the case of Glen the recognition was obvious as 
soon as the first shot was fired. Several minutes 
later came another, which fell only 60 yards short, 
so Glen hove-to and ' abandoned ' ship, the enemy 
continuing to fire every few minutes, but the shots 
fell just over. Her seventh and eighth shots fell 
much closer, in fact so near that their splash flooded 
the schooner's deck, and shell splinters struck the 
sails and bulwarks. Glen then opened fire with both 
guns, but this was a more cautious submarine, who 
declined to approach nearer than 4,000 yards, fired 
three more rounds, then submerged and made off. 

The activity of the submarines during this week 
in the neighbourhood of Portland Bill was most 
noticeable. Submarines were also stationed in the 
western approaches of the English Channel. The 
reason for this is not hard to appreciate, for it was on 
June 26, the day after the above engagement, that 
the first contingent of U.S.A. troops landed in 
France on the western coast. Whether the trans- 
ports would be bound up Channel to Cherbourg or 
Soutliampton, the enemy submarines were lying in 
wait ready for them. And it is significant that also 
on June 26 the Q-sailing-ship Gaelic sighted a sub- 


marine at the western entrance of the English 
Channel and had a short duel with her. 

On July 2 Gaelic had another indecisive duel, and 
on the tenth Glen (now commanded by Sub-Lieu- 
tenant K. Morris, R.N.R.) once more was in action. 
This time she was further down Channel, about 
45 miles S.W. of Portland Bill. In this incident 
the enemy fired several rifle-shots at the panic party 
rowing in the boat. An officer appeared at the 
conning-tower presently, hailed this rowing boat, 
and in good English ordered her to come alongside. 
The boat began to do so, but just then something 
seemed suddenly to startle the officer, and he dis- 
appeared into the conning-tower. Glen opened fire, 
and the submarine — one of the UC type— submerged. 
She was not sunk, but she had been damaged, and 
Sub-Lieutenant Morris was awarded the D.S.C. 

We saw just now that submarines were very fond 
of hanging about on the approach to Cherbourg. 
There was a sound reason for this. The coal-fields 
of France were in the hands of the enemy, conse- 
quently it fell to us to keep France supplied. From 
February, 1917, a system was organized which was 
the real beginning of the convoy method soon after- 
wards adopted with such beneficial results to our 
shipping. This embryonic organization was known 
as the 'F.C.T.'— French Coal-Trade Traffic. The 
ships would load coal up the Bristol Channel and 
then sail independently round to Weymouth Bay. 
Having thus collected, they were sailed across to 
Cherbourg together in a group, protection being 
afforded by trawlers during daylight and moonlight 
hours only. As one looked at this heterogeneous 
collection of craft, some of them of great age, lying 
at anchor off Weymouth Harbour, they seemed dis- 


tiiictly a curious lot ; but there was a great dearth 
of shipping at that time, and any old vessel that 
could carry coal and go ahead was worth her weight 
in gold. The system was found most successful, 
and other group sailings on definite routes, such as 
Falmouth- Brest and Dover-Dunkirk, were instituted. 

The next development was to have one or two 
Q-ships among the convoys, for the most obvious of 
reasons, and especially well astern of the convoy, so 
that the enemy might take them for stragglers and 
sink them before any of the escort could turn back 
and help. Then came a still further development, 
which had been in the minds of many naval officers 
for a long time. Since there was such a scarcity of 
tonnage available for general purposes, why not let 
the Q-ship, instead of carrying ballast, be loaded 
with a proper cargo ? She could easily carry this 
without interfering with her fighting ability : in fact, 
she would be trimmed more normally, and rather 
increase than decrease her power of deception. As 
to the possibility of secrecy being lost whilst loading 
in port, the armament was very cleverly concealed and 
only a little organization was necessary to prevent 
her true character being bruited about. The main 
difficulty would be when in the presence of neutral 
shipping in that particular harbour, but this problem 
was capable of solution. 

Thus it happened now that in many cases the 
Q-ship became also a trader. Be it noted, her 
character was not that of an armed merchant ship 
which is armed only defensively, but a properly 
commissioned warship carrying cargo as well as her 
offensive armament. Now, one of these craft was the 
two-masted 179-ton brigantine Probus (alias Q 30, 
Ready, Thirza, Elixir). She had been purchased by 


the Admiralty in 1915, and fitted with an auxiliary 
motor. Then, based on Granton, she had worked 
as a decoy in the North Sea. 

In JNIay, 1917, having done excellent work as a 
pure decoy, we find her as a decoy-trader. Having 
loaded up with coal at Granton, she left there on 
JNIay 4, and duly arrived at Treguier. From there 
she proceeded to Swansea with a cargo of pit-props, 
which were much needed by the Welsh coal mines, 
seeing that our customary supply from Scandinavia, 
via the North Sea, was so endangered at that time. 
From Swansea Probus, who was armed with two 
12-pounders and two 6-pounders, sailed round to 
Falmouth, and at 3.30 on the afternoon of June 20 
she set sail for Morlaix in company with twelve 
sailing ships and the one steamship escort, the armed 
trawler Harlech Castle. Think of it in these modern 
days : a dozen sailing vessels coming out past St. 
Anthony's Lighthouse ! Truly this war has shown 
how history goes on repeating itself. Who would 
have thought that sailing-ship convoys, which in 
other wars used to assemble and leave Falmouth, 
would ever be witnessed again ? 

Now, to control a dozen sail you must have sea- 
room, so the convoy was arranged thus ; A mile 
ahead of the first sailing ship steamed the trawler, 
then came the twelve ships spread over 3 miles, and 
then 4 miles astern of the last ship, and looking just 
as a straggler would be, sailed the Probus. There 
was thus a distance of 8 miles between her and the 
escort trawler. Most of a day passed before anything 
occurred. At 2.15 p.m. on June 21 Probus, still 
astern of the convoy, was about 23 miles south-west 
of the Start and heading on a course S.E. by S. The 
wind was S.W., force 3, and she was doing about 


4 knots througli the water, when she observ^ed what 
appeared to be a ketch-rigged vessel, steering the 
same course, 4 miles away on the starboard quarter ; 
but from the rapidity with which the bearing altered, 
it was soon obvious that the ketch was not under 
sail alone. At 2.30 p.m. the 'ketch' proved her 
submarine identity by opening fire, the first shot 
falling 10 yards clear of the brigantine's beam. 
Probus then hove-to, the crew went to action stations, 
and the boat was got ready to be launched, while 
the submarine kept up a rapid fire from about 4,000 
yards, shells falling unpleasantly close. By now 
Probus was heading about S.W. with fore-yards 
aback, and, owing to the light wind, was making a 
stern board. Then her head fell round slowly to the 
west. The enemy was now bearing about W. to 
W.S.VV., firing rapidly, and heading to the south- 
east so as to cross the brigantine's bows. It was a 
beautifully clear summer's afternoon, and you could 
see the convoy and the smoke from the escorting 
trawler quite easily. After the submarine had main- 
tained a continuous long-range fire for ten minutes, 
Probus ran up the ^^^hite Ensign, and at 3,500 yards 
opened fire with her starboard 12-pounder. The first 
round fell 500 yards short, but the crew of the sub- 
marine's gun hurriedly left their station and made 
for the conning-tower. The second shot seemed to 
be a hit, for the enemy, lying across the brigantine's 
bows, stopped, and a large cloud of smoke went up, 
and he temporarily ceased fire. 

Probus then went about on the other tack, and the 
enemy took advantage of this to resume firing, while 
shots began to fall all round ; but the port 12-pounder 
of the British ship now came into action, and the 
fourth shot was certainly another hit, for it dismantled 


the German's sails and mast, and raised a cloud of 
smoke from the fore part of the conning-tower. 
Shelling continued, and the enemy was compelled to 
submerge, Probus's parting shot hitting him on the 
top of the conning-tower. It was now about 3.30 p.m., 
and nothing was seen of the German until a quarter 
of an hour later, when he was sighted 6 miles away 
approaching Prohus. He had probably been stopping 
his shell-holes, and was now ready to give the sailing 
ship the knock-out blow ; but the armed trawler, with 
its fishermen crew eager to have a hand in the fight, 
was by this time making towards the submarine, and 
this compelled the German to break off the engage- 
ment and scurry to the north-east. 

Unfortunately this duel demonstrated yet again the 
great weakness of the sailing ship as a man-of-war. 
In the olden days, when the swift-moving galley 
fought the sailing carrack or caravel, the galley was 
able to press home her attack if the weather fell light, 
and left the other ship rolling helpless in the calm, 
with yards and tackle grievously creaking and chafing. 
The submarine is the modern galley, and the Q-sailing- 
ship is the carrack's counterpart. As long as there 
was a good breeze she could be manoeuvred, and if 
there was a hard breeze it would make it difficult 
for the enemy's gunnery. Probus was practically 
becalmed, so the submarine could run rings round 
her, and the sailing ship could not be worked up to 
windward. Of course, on these and similar occasions 
troubles seldom come singly ; for when the brigantine 
Probus made a stern board her starboard propeller 
had fouled the log-line, so this was out of action. 
However, Probus resumed her original course, fol- 
lowed the convoy, and in spite of the light airs duly 
arrived at Morlaix on June 25. 


Tliis was a 900-toii three-masted schooner which was requisitioned in the last 
year of the war. She liad previously been the United States " Edith E. 

Cummins. "' 

Q-SHip "Record Reign" 

This apparently peaceful ketch was one of those armed mystery sailing ships 
which came into service during the last vear of the war. 

To face p. ISS 


Although the submarine escaped, Probus had 
succeeded in luring him from the convoy, and had 
sent him right away. These sailing Q-ships became, in 
fact, one of the best types of escort for other sailing 
vessels in convoy, and thus allowed armed steam 
patrol vessels to be employed elsewhere. Looking in 
no way different from the rest of the convoy, but 
fitted with concealed wireless and, later, even with 
howitzer armament, they had a much better chance 
than the armed trawler or destroyer of enticing the 
submarine. Apart altogether from these important 
considerations, the scheme of carrying freights was a 
big financial success, and Probus paid for herself over 
and over again. It was nothing unusual for her to 
earn over £1,000 a month. Naturally enough, then, 
we find other sailing ships being, taken up for this dual 
work. In November, 1917, the 900-ton three-masted 
fore-and-aft schooner Fresh Hope, lying at Granton, 
was requisitioned. She had formerly been the United 
States' Edith E. Cummins, and in a fresh breeze could 
log her 12 knots. Known also as the Iroquois, she 
was fitted out and commissioned by the first week of 
April, 1918, and served until the Armistice. Other 
sailing vessels were thus commissioned in 1918, 
specially selected as being able to carry each at least 
one 4-inch and two 12-pounders, and to be fitted with 
auxiliary engines. These were the Rentoul, Imogene, 
Viola, Cijmric, and Elizabeth. They were actually 
armed with a 7*5-inch howitzer, in addition to the 
three guns just mentioned. Imogene was a barquen- 
tine, and had been carrying china clay fi'om Fowey to 
St. Malo. Rentoul was also a barquentine, Viola was 
a schooner ; Cymric was a three-masted schooner. 

By the end of September there were no fewer than 
nineteen decoy ships which had been fitted out in the 


one port of Granton, and nine of these were sailing 
ships. It will therefore be of interest to show how 
in this month such vessels were being employed in 
their double capacity of warship plus freighter. The 
barquentine Merops was discharging a cargo at 
Runcorn preparatory to loading coal for Cherbourg. 
The topsail schooner Dargle was discharging a 
cargo at Lerwick, and then loading herrings for 
Farnborough. The Fresh Hope was about to leave 
Liverpool for Belfast, where she would load with cork 
ballast for Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Baron Rose, 
another 900-ton schooner, was about to leave 
Newcastle with cork ballast for Halifax also. The 
barquentine Rentoul was on her way with coal to 
Cherbourg, the barquentine Imogene was on her way 
with coal for Lerwick. The topsail schooner Viola 
(alias Vereker) left Granton with coal for St. Valery- 
en-Caux. The iron schooner Cymric was taking coal 
from Granton to Cherbourg. Another three-masted 
schooner was carrying coal from Granton to St. 
Valery-en-Caux. In addition, there were a dozen 
steam craft from this same port acting as Q-ships. 
In another part of the British Isles our old friend 
Helgoland had yet another fight with a submarine. 
This was on July 11, 1917, in the neighbourhood of 
the Scillies, and this was another occasion when two 
ships with sails shelled each other, but unfortunately 
it was another of those calm days, and hazy. At the 
outset the enemy's shells passed over the Helgoland's 
fore-tgallant yard as the latter was just drifting with 
the tide. Then the motors were started, and at 
500 yards both guns and the Lewis guns gave the 
submarine a warm time, so that she was seriously 
damaged and had to escape by submerging. 

Thus, all round our coasts, in the North Sea, Eng- 











/ y. • , ! 

, •.'■.•/.■III 





This barqnentine was commissioned as a Q-ship in March, litis, was well armed, 
but was also employed simultaneously in carrying coal to France. 


The crew of the 4-inch eun. 

To face p. 100 


lish Channel, Irish Sea, and Atlantic : from as far 
north as the Orkneys and Shetlands to as far south as 
the Bay of Biscay, and as far west as the coast of 
North America, these Q-sailing-ships were doing 
their job of work. The fitting out, the manning of 
these craft and of their guns, put a great strain on 
our manhood, already greatly diminished by the 
demands of our Armies abroad and munition makers 
at home. Nor could the Navy proper and the 
Auxiliary Patrol Force afford to be weakened. On 
the contrary, destroyers and light cruisers were being 
built and commissioned at a rapid rate : whilst more 
minesweepers, more trawlers and drifters, were daily 
consuming scores of men. Add to this the fact that 
other men as gunners were required in great numbers 
— for practically every British merchant ship became 
defensively armed — and one can see how important to 
our island nation and the overseas Empire is the 
existence of peace-time shipping, with all that it 
connotes — steamships, liners, tramps, colliers, traw- 
lers, drifters, yachts, fishing smacks, it does not 
matter. From all these, and from the few full-rigged 
ships and sailing coasters, we had to draw our supplies 
of personnel, and it still takes longer to train a man 
into a sailor than into a military unit. 

Never before, not even in Armada days, and prob- 
ably ne^ er again, could such a call come from the fleet 
in being to the fleet of merchantmen. The sailing ship 
has had many centuries of usefulness as a fighting 
ship and a cargo carrier, and if she is being gradually 
killed by the mechanical ship she is dying hard. 
Apparently in neither capacity has she quite finished 
her fascinating and illustrious history. 



It was on February 17, 1917, that Commander Gordon 
Campbell, still in command of Farnboi^ougli, now 
named Q 5, again sank a submarine, but in circum- 
stances which, hid from publication at the time, sent a 
thrill through the British Navy and especially among 
those who had the good fortune to be serving in that 
area. The scene was again off the south-west Irish 
coast, and the enemy at the beginning of the month 
had commenced the unrestricted warfare portion of 
their submarine campaign. The Germans, as we 
have since learned, possessed at this date ninety-five 
submarines in addition to eight in the Baltic and 
thirty-one in the Mediterranean. The orders to their 
submarine captains were very drastic and left no un- 
certainty, and one of these commanding officers 
informed one of my friends after the war that unless 
they were successful in sinking plenty of shipping 
they soon were removed from their command. 

Every Allied merchant ship was to be attacked 
without delay. ' This form of warfare is to force 
England to make peace and thereby to decide the 
whole war. Energetic action is required, but above all 
rapidity of action,' ' Our object is to cut England off 
from traffic by sea, and not to achieve occasional 
results at far-distant points. As far as possible, there- 
fore, stations must be taken up near the English 


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coast, where routes converge and where divergence 
becomes impossible.' If ever there was a chance of 
attacking by night, this was to be done. When a 
ship had been abandoned by her crew the submarine 
was to sink her by gunfire, and approach the ship from 
aft. Owing to the activity of the British Q-ships, 
every ship, even saihng vessels, should be suspected, 
and both captain and engineer of merchant ships were 
to be taken prisoners. 

Of the above numbers of submarines available this 
month not less than twenty-five and not more than 
forty-four could actually be at work on any given 
date, for the reasons given in another chapter. The 
first stages of this unrestricted warfare were most 
marked, for whereas the number of merchant ships 
sunk by submarines in all waters during December 
and January had been respectively thirty-six and 
thirty-five, in February the total suddenly rose to 
eighty-six — these sinkings occurring in the western 
approaches, especially off the south coast of Ireland. 
On February 14 the sailing ship Eitdora (1,991 tons) 
had been sunk 30 miles S.S.W. of the Fastnet, and 
three days later the S.S. lolo 40 miles S. by W. of the 
Fastnet, so orders from Germany were being carried 
out to the letter. The seventeenth of February was 
the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, and Captain 
Campbell had taken Farnhorough into the locality 
just mentioned, the exact position being Lat. 51.34 N., 
Long. 11.23 W. It was a quarter to ten in the fore- 
noon and the steamer was steering an easterly course 
at 7 knots, when a torpedo was seen approaching. 
And then occurred a supreme instance of Q-ship 
bravery. In his Order Book Captain Campbell had 
laid it down that ' Should the Officer of the Watch 
see a torpedo coming, he is to increase or decrease 



speed as necessary to ensure it hitting.' This order 
was read and signed by all his officers, so that there 
could be no misunderstandino-. The intention was 
deliberate, premeditated self-immolation for the 
greater object of fooling the submarine and then 
sinking him. The Q-ship's company had all been 
warned that the intention would be thus, and every 
man was given an opportunity to leave the ship before 
sailing. Not one man left. Therefore to-day, when 
a long way off the torpedo was seen approaching, it 
could easily have been avoided, but instead, the helm 
was put hard aport only at the last minute, and only 
so that it should strike the ship elsewhere than in the 
engine-room. On came the steel fish and struck the 
ship abreast of No. 3 hold, wounding an Engineer 
Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.R., causing a terrific explosion, 
and making a huge hole in the ship's side. 

In the meantime ' Action ' had been sounded and 
all hands went to their stations, the ship being 
abandoned by every available man with the exception 
of those required on board. Thus two lifeboats and 
one dinghy full of men were sent to row about, and 
the fourth boat was partially lowered. Captain Camp- 
bell was lying concealed at one end of the bridge, 
watching and waiting in his great isolation. Up 
through the voice-pipe came the chief engineer's 
report that the engine-room was filling: back came 
the captain's orders that he was to hang on as long as 
possible and then hide. This was done. In the 
meantime Farnhorougli s captain saw the submarine 
appear on the starboard quarter a couple of hundred 
yards away, submerged, but cautiously making a 
thorough scrutiny of the ship through his periscope. 
Then the German — U 83 was her name — came past 
the ship on the starboard side only 13 yards away and 







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about 5 yards from the boats. She was so close, in 
fact, that Captain Campbell, looking down, could see 
the whole shape of the submarine below the water 
quite distinctly. 

Here was the big crisis. Was this the psycho- 
logical moment ? Was this the right time to make 
the final gamble ? For Captain Campbell the 
temptation to open fire was almost unbearable, yet 
the opportunity was not yet : he must wait a little 
longer and live minutes which were like days. The 
submarine passed along, then close round Farn- 
boro2igh's bows, finally breaking surface about 300 
yards on the port bow. It was now five minutes 
past ten and U 83 motoring along the surface came 
past the port side, continuing the scrutiny with 
less caution born of satisfaction. The concealed 
figure on FarnborougJis bridge was waiting only 
until all his guns would bear, and as soon as the 
enemy thus bore came the great onslaught. It was 
point-blank range, and the 6-pounder opened the 
battle, whose first shot hit the conning-tower and 
beheaded the German captain. 

The surprise had been instant and effective, for 
the submarine never recovered from the shock, but 
remained on the surface whilst FainiborougJis guns 
shattered the hull to pieces, the conning-tower being 
continually hit, and some of the shells going clean 
through. Over forty rounds had thus been fired, to 
say nothing of the Maxim gun. U 83 was beaten, 
finished, smashed : and she finally sank with her 
conning-tower open and her crew pouring out. About 
eight of her crew were seen in the water, and one of 
Fdrnborouglis lifeboats went to their assistance and 
was in time to pick up one officer and one man, and 
then rowed back to the ship through sea thick with 


oil and blood and bubbles. U 83 was satisfactorily 
disposed of, but what about the decoy ship herself? 
It was now time to inspect her, and she was clearly in 
a stricken state. The engine-room and boiler-rooms 
and both Nos. 3 and 4 after holds were all filling 

S.— 1320 b, (Eitablisheri — May. 1900.) 
(Revised— Tebruary, 1914.) 

P.O. of Watch- 

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{io.&;j) nt ■.KormiT. r.\a\ipij! m:c t 'T^ l-j lo-^ 

Fig. 13. — ' Farnborough's ' Farewell. 

When Q 5 {Fariiborough) had succeeded in sinking U 83, but was herself in a 
sinking condition and apparently doomed, Captain Campbell despatched 
the above wireless signal to Vice-Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-in- 
Chief, Queenstown. It was one of the most pathetic and dramatic messages 
which ever flashed out of the Atlantic, but happily Q 5 was salved. 

rapidly, and she was sinking by the stern : the end 
could not be far away. Captain Campbell therefore 
sent a wireless signal for assistance and placed nearly 
all his hands in the boats, keeping only a few men on 

Q-SHip '• Farnborough " 

Brought safely into Berehaven after her famous light and beached in 
Mill Cove, with a heavy list. 

S.S. " LODORER ■'■ 

Having served magnificently as a warship under the names of " Farnboroucrh "' 
and Q-o. and having been salved, this ship is here seen ready to be returned to 

her owners. 

To face p. 196 


board, and destroying all confidential books and 
charts. His signal was picked up, and before noon a 
British destroyer arrived, and as by this time Farn- 
horougk was in a critical condition most of the crew 
were transferred to her.* Presently H.M. sloop Butte?'- 
cup steamed up, and as there seemed a chance of saving 
the ship Captain Campbell with twelve officers and 
men then went back on board his ship. She seemed 
now to have settled to a definite position, and the 
water, though rising, was gaining but slowly. 

At length Butteixup got her in tow, but there is 
nothing so hard to steer as a sinking ship, and the 
tow parted. At 5 p.m. the sloop again got her in 
tow, but it was a disappointing business with the 
water steadily gaining below and the Atlantic swell 
breaking over the after deck, and thus the ships went 
on through the night. At 2 a.m. on the Sunday 
Farnhorough suddenly took an alarming list and the 
water gained rapidly, so the crew had to be ordered 
into the boats once again. The sloop Laburnum^ 
which had also arrived, was ordered to close her an 
hour and a half later, but just as Captain Campbell 
was walking aft off went one of the depth charges 
with such an explosion that Buttei'cup, thinking it 
was a submarine's torpedo, slipped her tow. After 
remaining aboard Laburmmi until daylight, Captain 
Campbell went back to his ship, and then Laburnum 
got her in tow. A course had been set for Bantry 
Bay, and as she approached she was an amazing spec- 
tacle, listing over to the extent of twenty degrees and 
her stern nearly 8 feet under water. However, the 

* Twelve officers and men were selected from a host of volunteers 
to try and get the ship in tow. These were placed in a motor- 
boat, whilst the Captain boarded the escort to arrange for towage 
if possible. 


armed trawler Lwieda and the tug Flying Sportsman 
had been sent out to her, and by their assistance she 
was brought up the ijord and beached at Mill Cove, 
Berehaven, by half-past nine that Sunday night. 
Next morning, and for long after, this very ordinary- 
looking steamer lay among a number of other wounded 
ships, a strange and impressive sight. Farnboi'OugJi 
had fought both submarine and adversity, and had won 
both times : still, had it not been for sound seaman- 
ship and her holds being packed with timber she 
would never have been saved. 

There was much work to be done and there were 
too few salvage experts and men to cope with the 
results of the submarines' attacks : so for the present 
Farnborough had to reman idle. Months later she 
was repaired temporarily, refloated, taken away from 
Berehaven and properly reconditioned, but she had 
ended her days as a warship. She has now gone back 
to the Merchant Service as a cargo carrier, and if you 
ever go aboard her you will find a suitable inscription 
commemorating her truly wonderful career. As for 
Commander Campbell, as soon as he had got his ship 
safely into Berehaven he was summoned to see his 
Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly. 
After that he was received by the King, who con- 
ferred on him the highest of all awards for heroes. No 
details appeared in the Press ; only this announcement 
from the London Gazette : 

' The King has been graciously pleased to approve | 
of the grant of the Victoria Cross to Commander 
Gordon Campbell, D.S.O., R.N., in recognition of 
his conspicuous gallantry, consummate coolness and 
skill in command of one of His Majesty's ships in 

Press and public were greatly puzzled, but secrecy 

I I 

Q-sHiP "Pargust" 
One of Captain Gordon Campbell's famous commands. 

Q-SHip '-Sarah .Tones" 

This craft did not come into the service until about three months Ijefore the 
end of the war. Her alias was •' Margaret Murray. " 

To face p. 198 


was at this time essential. ' This,' commented a 
well-known London daily, ' is probably the first time 
since the institution of the V.C. that the bestowal of 
this coveted honour has been announced without 
details of the deed for which it was awarded.' The 
popular press named him 'the Mystery V.C.,' and 
the usual crop of rumours and fantastic stories went 
round. And while these were being told the gallant 
commander was busy fitting out another Q-ship in 
which to go forth and make his greatest of all 

This ship was the S.S. Vittoria, a collier of 2,817 
gross tons. She was selected whilst lying at Cardiff, 
whence she was sent to Devonport to be fitted out 
as a decoy. Commander Campbell superintended 
her alteration, and she began her special service on 
March 28, 1917. She was armed with one 4-inch, 
four 12-pounders, two Maxim guns, and a couple of 
14-inch torpedo tubes. She was a slow creature, 
7J knots being her speed, but she looked the part she 
was intended to play. When Commander Campbell 
took over the command he was accompanied by his 
gallant crew from Farnbor^ough. She had been 
fitted with wireless, and down in her holds the useful 
timber had been stowed. On leaving Devonport she 
changed her name to Pargiist, but she was variously 
known also as the Snail, Friswell, and Pangloss at 
later dates. 

She again came under the orders of Sir Lewis 
Bayly at Queenstown, and then, being in all respects 
ready to fight another submarine, Par gust went 
cruising. She had not long to wait, and on June 7 
we find her out in the Atlantic again, not very far 
from the scene of her last encounter. The month of 
April had been a terrible one for British shipping ; 


no fewer than 155 of our merchant craft had been 
sunk by submarines, representing a loss of over half 
a million of tonnage. In May these figures had 
dropped slightly, but in June they were up again, 
though in no month of the war did our losses ever 
reach the peak of April again. Nor was it only 
British ships that so suffered, and I recollect the 
U.S.S. Cushing two days previously bringing into Ban- 
try Bay thirteen survivors, including three wounded, 
from an Italian barque. At this time, too, the 
enemy submarines were laying a number of dangerous 
minefields off this part of the world, and as one 
patrolled along the south-west Irish coast pieces of 
wreckage, a meat-safe or a seaman's chest, would be 
seen floating from some victimized steamer. 

On the morning, then, of the seventh, picture 
Pargust in Lat. 51.50 N., Long. 11.50 W., jogging 
along at her slow speed. At that time there was 
scarcely a steamer that was not armed with some 
sort of a gun ; therefore, if a Q-ship did not display 
one aft, she would have looked suspicious. Pargust 
kept up appearances by having a dummy gun mounted 
aft with a man in uniform standing by. I well re- 
member that day. There was a nasty sea running, 
and the atmosphere varied from the typical Irish 
damp mist to heavy rain. At 8 a.m. out of this 
thickness Pargust descried a torpedo, apparently 
fired at close range, racing towards her starboard 
beam. When about 100 yards off it jumped out of 
the water and struck the engine-room near the water- 
line, making a large tear in the ship's side, filling the 
boiler-room, engine-room, and No. 5 hold, and blow- 
ing the starboard lifeboat into the air. 

Captain Campbell then gave the order to abandon 
ship, and the panic party went away in three boats, 

> ^ 

Z 7 

03 ? 



and just as the last boat was pushing off a periscope 
was sighted 400 yards on the port side forward of the 
beam. It then turned and made for the ship, and 
submerged when close to the lifeboat's stern, then 
came on the starboard quarter, turned towards 
the ship and, when 50 yards away, partially broke 
surface, heading on a course parallel, but opposite, to 

s/M sank a 

Position cf other boats 

/ \ 

Periscope •- 

Fig. 14. 

^ P^r> 


s» ^ — Position of-^U on 'Open Fire ' 

-Diagram to Illustrate Approximate Movements of 
'Pargust' and UC 29 on June 7, 1917. 

that oi Pargust, the lifeboat meanwhile pulling away 
round the steamer's stern. The submarine followed, 
and a man was seen on the conning-tower shouting 
directions. The lifeboat then rowed towards the 
ship, and this apparently annoyed the Hun, who 
now began semaphoring the boats ; but at 8.36 a.m. 
the submarine was only 50 yards off, and was bearing 
one point before the beam, so all Pargusfs guns were 
able to bear nicely. Fire was therefore opened, the 


first shot from the 4-inch gun hitting the base of the 
conning -tower and removing the two periscopes. 
Nearly forty more shells followed, most of them 
being hits in the conning-tower, so that the submarine 
quickly listed to port, and several men came out of 
the hatch abaft the conning-tower. She was already 
obviously in a bad way, with her heavy list and her 
stern almost submerged, and oil squirting from her 

The Germans now came on deck, held up their 
hands, and waved ; so Captain Campbell ordered 
' Cease Fire.' Then a typically unsportsmanlike 
trick was played, for as soon as Pargust stopped firing 
the enemy began to make off at a fair speed. So 
there was nothing for it but to resume shelling her, 
and this was kept up until 8.40 a.m., when an 
explosion occurred in the forward part of the sub- 
marine. She sank for the last time, falling over on 
her side, and 3 feet of her sharp bow end up in the air, 
300 yards off, was the last that was ever seen of her. 
So perished UC 29, and thus one inore submarine was 
added to the score of this gallant captain and crew. 
One officer (a sub-lieutenant of Reserve) and an 
engine-room petty officer were picked up. The 
former had come on to the submarine's deck with a 
couple of men to fire the 2 2 -pounder, but owing to 
the heavy sea knocked up by the fresh southerly wind 
they had been all washed overboard before reaching 
the gun. 

The captain of UC 29 had been killed by Pargusfs 
fire. This class of submarine carried besides her 
22-pounder and machine-gun eighteen mines and 
three torpedoes. She had left Brunsbiittel on May 25, 
calling at Heligoland, and the routine was usually 
first to lay the mines and then operate, sinking ships 

Bridge of Q-ship " Dunraven " 

Captain Gordon Campbell, V.C, D.S.O., R.N.. inspecting the damage by the 
submai'ine's shells to his ship. 

To face p. 202 


with gun or torpedo. As to her mines, it is quite 
possible that she laid the three mines I recollect 
sinking on June 12 in the approach to Valentia 
Harbour, Dingle Bay, and she may have laid three 
others off Brow Head, one of which 1 remember on 
June 4, for it was customary for these craft to lay 
their ' eggs ' in threes. With regard to her three 
torpedoes we know that one had penetrated Pargast, 
another had sunk a sailing ship — probably the Italian 
barque already mentioned — and the third had been 
fired at a destroyer, but passed underneath. 

As to Pargust, she fortunately did not sink, thanks 
to her cargo of timber. At 12.30 p.m. another of 
Admiral Bayly's alert sloops, who always seemed to 
be at hand when wanted, arrived. This was H.M.S. 
Crocus, who took Pnrgust in tow. The sloop Zinnia 
and the United States destroyer Gushing sxvwedi also, 
and escorted her to Queenstown, which she reached 
next afternoon. The prisoners had been already 
transferred to Zinnia, and in Pargust the only casual- 
ties had been one stoker petty officer killed and the 
engineer sub-lieutenant wounded. For Pargusfs 
splendid victory further honours were awarded. 
Captain Campbell, already the possessor of the V.C. 
and D.S.O., now received a bar to his D.S.O. To 
I^ieutenant R. N. Stuart, D.S.O. , R.N.R., was given 
the V.C, and Seaman VV. Wilhams, R.N.R., also 
received this highest of all decorations. These two, 
one officer and one man, were selected by ballot to 
receive this distinction, but every officer and every 
man had earned it. 

Before Pargust could be ready for sea again much 
would have to be done to her at Devonport, so 
Captain Campbell proceeded to look for a new ship, 
and this was found in the collier Dunraven. She 


was fitted out at Devonport under his supervision, 
just like her predecessor, and her crew turned over 
en bloc from Pargust. Slie was commissioned on 
July 28, and within a fortnight Captain Campbell, 
now already promoted to post- captain at an age 
which must certainly be a record, was engaged in the 
most heroic Q-ship fight of all the long series of duels 
only a few days after leaving Devonport. 

Just before eleven on the forenoon of August 8 
Dunraven was in the Bay of Biscay, about 130 miles 
west of Ushant, doing her 8 knots and disguised 
as a defensively armed British merchantman, for 
which reason she had a small gun aft. In order to 
conform further with merchant-ship practice of this 
time, she was keeping a zigzag course. On the horizon 
appeared a submarine, about two points forward of 
Jbunravens starboard beam. The German was 
waiting, you see, in a likely position for catching 
homeward-bound steamers making for the western 
British ports, and on sighting this ' tramp ' he must 
have felt pretty sure she was bringing home a cargo 
of commodities useful for winning the war. Pursuing 
the more cautious tactics of the time, the enemy, 
having apparently ascertained the ' tramp's ' speed 
and mean course, submerged, but at 11,43 she broke 
surface 5,000 yards off the starboard quarter and 
opened fire. In order to maintain the bluff. Captain 
Campbell replied with his defensive gun, made as 
much smoke as possible, reduced to 7 knots, and 
made an occasional zigzag in order to give the enemy 
a chance of closing. Diuir avert was now steaming 
head to sea, and the enemy's shots were falling over, 
but after about half an hour of this the submarine 
ceased firing, came on at full speed, and a quarter of 
an hour later turned broadside on, and reopened fire. 

After the Battlk 

Forebridge of Q-ship " Dunraven '" and captain's cabin as the result 
of the siibmaiiue's shells. 

To face p. 204 


In the meantime the decoy was intentionally firing 
short, and sent wireless signals en clair so that the 
enemy could still further be deceived. Such messages 
as ' Submarine chasing and shelling me,' ' Submarine 
overtaking me, help, come quickly . . . am aban- 
doning ship,' were flashed forth just as were sent 
almost daily by stricken ships in those strenuous days. 
Dunravens next bluff was to pretend his engines had 
been hit ; so Captain Campbell stopped his ship, 
which now made a cloud of steam. The next step 
was to ' abandon ship,' and the ' tramp ' had enough 
way on to allow of her being turned broadside on 
and let the enemy see that the vessel was being 
abandoned. Then, to simulate real panic, one of 
the boats was let go by the foremost fall, an incident 
that somehow seems to happen in every disaster to 
steamers. Thus, so far, everything had been carried 
out just as a submarine would have expected a genuine 
' tramp ' to behave. Not a thing had been omitted 
which ought to have been seen by the enemy, who 
had already closed and continued his shelling. From 
now ensued a most trying time. To receive punish- 
ment with serene stoicism, to be hit and not reply, is 
the supreme test ; but these officers and men were no 
novices in the Q-ship art, and none had had greater 
or more bitter experience. However, not all the 
tactics and devices could prevent the enemy's shells 
hitting if the German insisted, and this had to be 
endured in order that at length the submarine might 
be tempted inside the desired range and bearing. 

Thus it happened that one shell penetrated Dun- 
leaven's poop, exploding a depth charge and blowing 
Lieutenant C. G. Bonner, D.S.C., R.N.R., out of his 
control position. This was rather bad luck, and two 
more shells followed, the poop became on fire, dense 


clouds of black smoke issued forth, and the situation 
was perilous ; for in the poop were the magazine and 
depth charges, and it was obvious that as the fire 
increased an explosion of some magnitude must soon 
occur. But the main consideration was to sink the 
submarine, and it mattered little if the Q-ship were 
lost ; so Captain Campbell decided to wait until the 
submarine got in a suitable position. It was exactly 
two hours to the minute since the submarine had 
been first sighted when, just as he was passing close 
to Dunraveii s stern, a terrific explosion took place 
in the poop, caused probably by a couple of depth 
charges and some cordite. The result was that the 
4-incli gun and the whole of its crew were blown up 
into the air, the gun vaulting the bridge and alighting 
on the well deck forward, while the crew came down 
in various places, one man falling into the water, and 
4-inch projectiles being blown about the ship in the 
most unpleasant manner. 

That this explosion should have happened at this 
moment was a misfortune of the greatest magnitude, 
for it spoilt the whole tactics. Captain Campbell was 
watching the enemy closely, and the latter was coming 
on so nicely that he had only to proceed a little fur- 
ther and Dunravens guns would have been bearing 
at a range of not more than 400 yards. As it was, 
the explosion gave the whole game away, for firstly it 
frightened the submarine so that he dived, secondly 
it set going the ' open fire ' buzzers at the guns. 
Thus the time had come to attack. The only gun in 
the ship that would bear was the one on the after 
bridge, and this began to bark just as the White 
Ensign was hoisted. One shot was thought to have 
succeeded in hitting the conning- tower just as the 
enemy was submerging, but if he was damaged it 

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was not seriously, and Captain Campbell realized that 
the next thing to expect was a torpedo. He therefore 
ordered the doctor to remove all the wounded, and 
hoses were turned on to the poop, which was now one 
mass of flames, the deck being red-hot. So gallant 
had been this well-disciplined crew that even when it 
was so hot tliat they had to lift the boxes of cordite 
from off the deck the men still had remained at their 

The position now was this : a ship seriously on fire, 
the magazine still intact but likely to explode before 
long with terrible effects, a torpedo attack imminent, 
and the White Ensign showing that this was a ' trap- 
ship ' after all. The submarine would certainly fight 

* Captain Campbell has been good enough to furnish me with 
the following details of this heroic episode : 

' Lieutenant Bonner, having been blown out of his control by the 
first explosion, crawled into the gun -hatch with the crew. They 
there remained at their posts with a fire raging in the poop below 
and the deck getting red-hot. One man tore up his shirt to give 
pieces to the gun's crew to stop the fumes getting into their 
throats, others lifted the boxes of cordite off the deck to keep it 
from exploding, and all the time they knew that they must be 
blown up, as the secondary supply and magazine were immediately 
below. They told me afterwards that communication with the 
bridge was cut off, and although they knew they would be blown 
up, they also knew they would spoil the show if they moved, so 
they remained until actually blown up with their gun. Then, 
when as wounded men they were ordered to remain quiet in 
various places during the second action, they had to lie there un- 
attended and bleeding, with explosions continually going on aboard 
and splinters from the shell-fire penetrating their quarters. Lieu- 
tenant Bonner, himself wounded, did what he could for two who were 
with him in the wardroom. When I visited them after the action, 
they thought little of their wounds, but only expressed their 
disgust that the enemy had not been sunk. Surely such bravery 
is hard to equal. The strain for the men who remained on board 
after the ship had been torpedoed, poop set on fire, cordite and 
shells exploding, and then the enemy shell-fire, can easily be 


now like the expert duellist, and it would be a fight 
to the finish, undoubtedly. Realizing all this, and 
full well knowing what was inevitable, Captain Camp- 
bell made a decision which could have been made 
only by a man of consummate moral courage. To a 
man-of-war who had answered his call for assistance 

^ 1X90 h lEstKbhshed — Mav. 1900.) 
J. lUi.\J U. .D I j^ Ja„uar'v I"!?) 

P.O. of Watch - 

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T,me- JZ ■TO/^ 

l\ £je^h ^Q^o.-»-tw /^ n-^ iy\£^d£.->^t' 

M. 1704/00. 
Sta. (i/14. 
Sta. 536/ IC. 

13242 J S06(M/D6B 56260 PaJ* 2/17 H W V Lj £, 877. 

Fig. 15.— Ths Great Decision. 

Captain Campbell's famous wireless signal refusing assistance when the Q-ship 
Dunraven was already crippled and about to be attacked again. 

when the explosion occurred he now sent a wireless 
signal requesting him to keep away, as he was already 
preparing for the next phase, still concentrating as he 
was on sinking the submarine.* 

* See illustration above. 




a > 

S o 


. O 
• > 






It was now twenty minutes since that big explosion, 
and the expected torpedo arrived, striking Duiiraven 
abaft the engine-room. The enemy was aware of 
two facts : he had seen the first ' abandon ship ' party 
and this he now knew was mere bluff", and that there 
were others still remaining on board. In order, there- 
fore, to deceive the German, Captain Campbell now 
sent away some more of his crew in boats and a raft. 
It would then look as if the last man had left the 
ship. From 1.40 to 2.30 p.m. followed a period of 
the utmost suspense, during which the periscope 
could be seen circling around scrutinizing the ship to 
make quite sure, whilst the fire on the poop was 
still burning fiercely, and boxes of cordite and 4-inch 
shells were going off every few minutes. To control 
yourself and your men under these circumstances and 
to continue thinking coolly of what the next move 
shall be, this, surely, is a very wonderful achievement : 
more than this could be asked of no captain. 

At half-past tw^o the submarine came to the surface 
directly astern (where Dunraveris guns would not 
bear) and resumed shelling the steamer at short range, 
and used her Maxim gun on the men in the boats. 
This went on for twenty minutes, and then she dived 
once more. Captain Campbell next decided to use 
his torpedoes, so five minutes later one was fired 
which passed just ahead of the submarine's periscope 
as the enemy was motoring 150 yards off on the port 
side ; and seven minutes afterwards Dunraven fired a 
second torpedo which passed just astern of the peri- 
scope. The enemy had failed to see the first torpedo, 
but evidently he noticed the second. It was obvious 
that by now it was useless to continue the contest 
any further, for the submarine would go on torpedo- 
ing and shelling Dunraven until she sank : so Captain 


22nd August » 1917. 

It Is with very great pleasure that I 
convey to you, by the directions of the War 
Cabinet, an expression ot their high appreciation 
of the gallantry, skill, and devotion to duty, 
which have heen displayed througli many months of 
arduous service by yourself and the officers and 
men of His Majesty's ship under your command. 

In conveying to you this message of the 
War Cabinet, which expresses the hi^i esteem with 
which the conduct of your officers and men Is 
regarded by His Majesty's Government, I wish to 
add on behalf of the Board of Admiralty, that they 
warmly endorse this commendation. 

Will you please convey this message to 
all ranks and ratings under your command? 

Fig. 16. — Letter of Appreciation from ;the First Lord of the 
Admiralty to Captain Gordon Campbell after the Historic 
Actio fought by Q-Ship ' Dunraven.' 


Campbell signalled for urgent assistance," and almost 
immediately the U.S.S. No?iia arrived and fired at a 
periscope seen a few hundred yards astern of Dun- 
raven. Then came the two British destroyers Attack 
and Christopher, lyunraven then recalled her boats 
and the fire was extinguished, but it was found that 
the poop had been completely gutted and that all 
depth charges and ammunition had been exploded. 
From Noma and Christopher doctors came over and 
assisted in tending the wounded, a couple of the most 
dangerously injured being taken on board Noma to 
be operated on and then landed at Brest. 

At G.45 p.m. Christopher began towing Dmiraven, 
but this was no easy matter, for there was a nasty 
sea running, the damaged ship would not steer ; her 
stern went down, the sea broke over it and worked 
its way forward. In this way the night passed, and 
at 10.15 the next morning Christopher was able to 
report that she was now only 60 miles west of Ushant 
and bringing Diuiraven towards Plymouth at 4- knots. 
By six that evening the ship was in so bad a condition 
that she might sink any moment, so Captain Camp- 
bell transferred sixty of his crew to the trawler Foss. 
About 9 p.m. two tugs arrived, took over the towing, 
and carried on during the night until 1.30 a.m. of 
August 10. It was time then for the last handful of 
men to abandon her in all true earnestness, so the 
Christopher came alongside, in spite of the heavy sea 
running, and the last man was taken off. It was 
only just in time, for almost immediately she capsized, 
and was finally sunk by Christopher dropping a depth 
charge and shelling her as a dangerous derelict soon 

* In the meantime he arranged for a further ' abandon ship ' 
evolution, having only one gun's crew on board. 


after 3 a.m. Thus the Hfe of Dunraven as a man-of- 
war had been both l)rief and distinguished. 

As to the officers and men, it is difficult to imagine 
greater and more persistent bravery under such 
adverse circumstances, and the King made the 
following awards: Captain Gordon Campbell, V.C., 
D.S.O., received a second bar to his D.S.O. ; Lieu- 
tenant C. G. Bonner, D.S.C., R.N.R., received a 
V.C., as also did Petty Officer E. Pitcher. To 
Assistant-Paymaster R. A. Nunn, D.S.C., R.N.R., 
was awarded a D.S.O. Three other officers received 
a D.S.C., whilst Lieutenant P. R. Hereford, D.S.O., 
D.S.C., and two engineer officers, all received a bar 
to their D.S.C. 

Such is the story of Captain Campbell's last and 
greatest Q-ship fight, for after this he was appointed 
to command a light cruiser at Queenstown. In these 
duels w^e reach the high-water mark of sea gallantry, 
and the incidents themselves are so impressive that 
no further words are necessary. Let us leave it at 



In history it is frequently the case that what seems 
to contemporaries merely ordinary and commonplace 
is to posterity of the utmost value and interest. How 
little, for example, do we know of the life and routine 
in the various stages and development of the sailing 
ship ! In a volume entitled ' Ships and Ways of 
Other Days,' published before the war, I endeavoured 
to collect and present the everyday existence at sea 
in bygone years. Some day, in the centuries to 
come, it may be that the historical student will 
require to know something of the organization and 
mode of life on board one of the Q-steamships, and 
because it is just one of those matters, which at the 
time seemed so obvious, I have now thought it 
advisable here to set down a rough outline. As time 
goes on the persons of the drama die, logs and 
diaries and correspondence fall into unsympathetic 
hands and become destroyed ; therefore, whilst it is 
yet not too late, let us provide for posterity some 
facts on which they can base their imagination of 
Q-ship life. 

Elsewhere in the pages of this book the reader 
will find it possible to gather some idea of the types, 
sizes, and appearances of the ships employed. The 
following details are chiefly those of one of the most 
distinguished Q-ships, the famous Peusliurst, and as 



such they have especial interest as showing the 
organization of a tiny Uttle tramp into a vaHant and 
successful man-of-war that sank several powerful 
enemy submarines ; and it is through the courtesy of 
her gallant late commanding officer, Captain F. H. 
Grenfell, D.S.O., R.N., that I am able to present 
these facts. 

Penshurst was a three-masted, single-funnelled, 
single-screw steamer, owned by a London firm. She 
had been fitted out as a decoy at the end of 1915 by 
Admiral Colville at Longhope. Her length between 
perpendiculars was 225 feet, length over all 232 feet, 
beam 35 feet 2 inches, draught 14 feet 6 inches, 
depth of hold 13 feet 7 inches. Her tonnage was 
1,191 gross, 740 registered, displacement 2,035 tons. 
Fitted with four bulkheads, the ship had the maximum 
amount of hold, the engines being placed right aft. 
The crew were berthed in the forecastle, the engineers' 
mess and cabins being aft, whilst the captain's and 
oflScers' mess and cabins were adjacent to the bridge 
just forward of midships. The engine-room pressure 
was 180 pounds, and the maximum speed, with every- 
thing working well and a clean bottom, was 10 knots. 
Her armament consisted of five guns. A 12-pounder 
(18 cwt.) was placed on the after hatch, but disguised 
in the most ingenious manner by a ship's boat, which 
had been purposely sawn through so that the detached 
sections could immediately be removed, allowing the 
gun to come into action. Originally there were 
mounted a 3-pounder and 6 -pounder on each side of 
the lower bridge deck. These were hidden behind 
wooden screens such as are often found built round 
the rails in this kind of ship. These screens were 
specially hinged so that on going into action they 
immediately fell down and revealed the guns. Thus 





.•2 O 

§ S 






it was possible always to offer a broadside of three 
guns. In the spring of 1916 Penshnrst was trans- 
ferred from Longhope to Milford and Queenstown, 
and Admiral Bayly had tlie arrangement of guns 
altered so that the .'j-pounders were now concealed 
in a gunhouse made out of the engineers' mess and 
cabins, the intention being to enable both these guns 
to fire right aft. The 6-pounders were then shifted 
forward into the positions previously occupied by the 
3-pounders on the lower bridge deck. How success- 
ful this arrangement was in action the reader is able 
to see for himself in the accounts of Penshurst' s 
engagements with submarines. The ship was also 
supplied with depth charges, rockets, and Verey's 

The crew consisted of Captain Grenfell and three 
temporary R.N.R. officers, an R.N.R. assistant-pay- 
master, thirteen Royal Navy gunnery ratings, eight 
R.N.R. seamen, a couple of stewards, two cooks, a 
shipwright, carpenter's crew, an R.N.R. chief engine- 
room artificer, an engine-room artificer, and R.N.R. 
stokers, bringing the company up to forty-five. 

In arranging action stations in a Q-ship the diffi- 
culty was that internally the vessel had to be organized 
as a warship, while externally she must necessarily 
keep up the character of a merchantman. In Pens- 
kurst Captain Grenfell had arranged for the following 
signals to be rung from the bridge on the alarm gong. 
One long ring meant that a submarine was in sight 
and that the crew were to stand by at their respective 
stations ; if followed by a short ring it denoted the 
enemy was on the starboard side ; if two short rings 
the submarine was on the port side. Two long rings 
indicated that the crew were to go to panic stations ; 
three long rings meant that they were to go to action 


stations without ' panic' ' Open fire ' was ordered 
by a succession of short rings and whistles. 

With regard to the above, in the case of action 
stations the look-out men on the bridge proceeded to 
their gun at the stand-by signal, keeping out of sight, 
while the crews who were below, off watch, went also 
to their guns, moving by the opposite side of the 
ship. In order to simulate the real mercantile crew, 
the men under the foc's'le now came out and showed 
themselves on the fore well deck. If ' panic ' was to 
be feigned, all the crew of the gun concealed by the 
collapsible boat were to hide, the signalman stood by 
to hoist the White Ensign at the signal to open fire, 
and the boat party ran aft, turned out the boats, 
lowered them, and ' abandoned ' ship, pulling away 
on the opposite bow. The signal for standing-by 
to release the depth charge was when the captain 
dropped a red flag, and all guns' crews were to look 
out to fire on the enemy if the depth charge brought 
the U-boat to the surface. 

Special arrangements had been made in the event 
of casualties. Thus, if the captain were laid out a 
certain officer was to carry on and take over com- 
mand. Similar arrangements were made in the event 
of all officers on the bridge becoming casualties, an 
eventuality that was far from improbable. In fact. 
Captain Grenfell gave orders that if a shell burst on 
or near the bridge a certain officer was to be informed 
in any case ; and if the latter did not receive word of 
this explosion he was to assume that everyone on the 
bridge was a casualty and he was to be ready to open 
fire at the right time. One of the possibilities in the 
preliminary stages of these attacks was always that 
owing to the hitting by the enemy's shells, or, more 
likely still, by the explosion of his torpedo against 


the side of the ship, some portion of the screens or 
dummy deckhouses might have been damaged, and 
thus the guns be revealed to the enemy. So, while 
Penshursfs captain was busily engaged watching the 
movements of the submarine, the information as to 
this unfortunate fact might have been made known. 
It was therefore a standing rule that the bridge was 
to be informed by voice-pipe of such occurrences. 
Damage received in the engine-room was reported up 
the pipe to the bridge. Conversely there were placed 
three men at the voice-pipes — one on the bridge, one 
in the gunhouse aft, and one at the 12-pounder — 
whose duty it was to pass along the messages, the 
first-mentioned passing down the varying bearing and 
range of the submarine and the state of affairs on the 
bridge, and when no orders were necessary he was to 
keep passing along the comforting remark ' All right.' 
By this means the hidden officers and guns' crews 
were kept informed of the position of affairs and able 
to have the guns instantly ready to fire at the very 
moment the screens were let down. Obviously 
victory and the very lives of every man in the ship 
could be secured only if the vessel came into action 
smartly and effectively without accident or bungling. 
Sometimes victory was conditional only on being 
torpedoed, so that the enemy might believe he had got 
the steamer in a sinking condition and the vessel was 
apparently genuinely abandoned. Inasmuch as the 
submarine on returning home had to afford some sort 
of evidence, the U-boat captain would approach the 
ship and endeavour to read her name. It was then 
that the Q-ship's opportunity presented itself, and the 
guns poured shells into the German. Special drills 
were therefore made in case Penshurst should be hit 
by torpedo, and in this eventuality the boat ' panic 


party ' was to lower away and at once start rowing off 
from the ship, whilst the remainder hid themselves at 
their respective stations. As for the engineers, their 
duty was to stop the engines at once, but to try to 
keep the dynamo ruiming as long as possible so that 
wireless signals could still be sent out. The engine- 
room staff were to remain below as long as conditions 
would allow, but if the water rose so that these were 
compelled to come up, their orders were to crawl out 
on to the deck on the disengaged side and there lie 
down lest the enemy should see them. As these 
Q-ships usually carried depth charges and the latter 
exploded under certain conditions of pressure from 
the sea, it was one of the first duties on being 
torpedoed that these should be secured. 

Now, supposing the Q-ship were actually sunk and 
the whole crew were compelled i^eally to abandon 
ship, what then ? The submarine would certainly 
come alongside the boats and make inquiries. She 
would want to know, for instance, the name of the 
ship, owners, captain, cargo, where from, where 
bound. That was certain. She would also, most 
probably, insist on taking the captain prisoner, if the 
incident occurred in the last eighteen months of the 
war. All these officers and men would, of course, be 
wearing not smart naval uniform, but be attired in 
the manner fitting the yersonnel of an old tramp. 
The captain would be wearing a peaked cap, with the 
house-flag of his Company suitably intertwined in 
the cap badge, while the men would be attired in 
guernseys, old suits, and mufflers, with a dirty old 
cloth cap. Now, if the U-boat skipper was a live 
man and really knew his work he would, of course, 
become suspicious on seeing so many hands from one 
sunken tramp. ' This,' he would remark, ' is no 


merchant ship, but a proper trap,' and would proceed 
to cross-examine the boats' crews. It was therefore 
the daily duty of Q-ship men to learn a suitable lie 
which would adequately deceive the German. Here 
is the information which was, at a certain 
period of her Q-ship career, ready to hand out to any 
inquisitive Hun if the latter had sunk the ship. 

In answer to questions the crew would reply : 
'This is the S.S. Perishurst, owned by the Power 
Steam Ship Company of London. Her master was 
Evan Davies, but he has gone down with the ship, 
poor man. Cargo ? She was carrying coal, but she 
was not an Admiralty collier.' Then the enemy 
would ask where from and to. If it happened that 
Penshurst was in a likely locality the reply would be : 
' From Cardiff'; otherwise the name of a well distant 
coal port, such as Newcastle or Liverpool, was decided 
upon. For instance, if PensJiurst were sunk in the 
neighbourhood of Portland Bill whilst heading west 
it would be no good to pretend you were from the 
Mersey or Bristol Channel. When the German com- 
mented on the singularly large number of the crew, 
he would get the reply : ' Yes, these aren't all our 
own chaps. We picked up some blokes two days 
ago from a torpedoed ship.' Then in answer to 
further questions one of the survivors from the latter 
would back up the lie with the statement that they 
were the starboard watch of the S.S. Carroii, owned 
by the Carron Company, 2,350 tons, bound with a 
cargo of coal from Barry (or Sunderland) to a French 
port. In this case Captain Grenfell would pretend to 
be the master of the Cam-on, and of PensJiursfs four 
officers one would pretend he was the first mate of 
the Cmn-on, another the first mate of the colher 
Penshurst, another the Penslmrsfs second mate, 


whilst the assistant-paymaster, not being a navigator, 
passed as chief steward. Thus, every Httle detail 
was thought out for every possible contretemps. To 
surprise the enemy and yet not to let him surprise 
you was the aim. 

If, by a piece of bad luck, your identity as a Q-ship 
had been revealed— and this did occur — so that the 
enemy got away before you had time to sink him, 
there was nothing for it but to get the other side of 
the horizon and alter the appearance of the ship. To 
the landsman this may seem rather an impossible 
proposition. I admit at once that in the case of the 
Q-sailing-ships this was rather a tall order, for the 
plain reason that topsail schooners and brigantines in 
these modern days of maritime enterprise are com- 
paratively few in number. But the greatest part of 
our sea-borne trade is carried on in small steamers of 
more or less standardized type or types. Vessels 
of the type such as Penshurst and Suffolk Coast are 
to be seen almost everywhere in our narrow seas : 
except for the markings on their funnels they are as 
much like each other as possible. In a fleet of such 
craft it would be about as easy for a German to tell 
one from another as in a Tokio crowd it would be for 
an Englishman to tell one Japanese from another. 
The points which distinguish these craft the one from 
the other are of minor consideration, such as the 
colour of the hull, the colour of the funnel, the device 
on the funnel, the number of masts, the topmast, 
derricks, cross-trees, and so on. Thus, in the case of 
Penshurst there were any amount of disguises which 
in a few hours would render her a different ship. For 
instance, by painting her funnel black, with red flag 
and white letters thereon, she might easily be taken 
for one of the Carron Company's steamers, such as 


i,..u i.:^>A..,^^..-.^..^£^?!^..-.^^..: ■•-^^-4 

Q-SHip "Barranca" 

In one form of disguise. Hull painted a light colour, black boot-top to funnel. 

funnel painted a light colour, alley ways open. She is here seen in her original 

colour as a West Indian fruit-carrier. 

Q-sHip "Barranca" 

Appearance altered by painting hull lilack and funnel black with white band. 

She is here disguised as a Spaniard, with Spanish colours painted on the ship's 

side just forward of the bridge, though not discernable in the photograph. 

To face p. -JiO 


the Forth. By giving her a black funnel with a 
white V she might be the Glouceste?' Coast of the 
Powell, Bacon, and Hough Lines, Ltd. ; by altering 
the funnel to black, white, red, white, and black 
bands she might have been the Streathatn, owned by 
Messrs. John Harrison, Ltd. Other similar craft, 
sucli as the Blackburn and Bargang, had no funnel 
marks ; so here again were more disguises. Penslmrst 
further altered her appearance at times by taking 
down her mizzen-mast altogether, by filling in the 
well deck forward, by adding a false steam-pipe to 
the funnel, by shortening and levelling the derricks, 
by removing the main cross-trees, by painting or 
varnishing the wood bridge-screen, by giving the 
deckhouses a totally different colour, by showing red 
lead patches on the hull, and varying the colour of 
the sides with such hues as black to-day, next time 
green or grey or black, and adding a sail on the 

If you will examine the photos of Commander 
Douglas's Q-ship Barranca, you will see how cleverly, 
by means of a little faking, even a much bigger ship 
could be disguised. In one picture you see her alley- 
ways covered up by a screen, funnel markings altered, 
and so on ; whilst in another the conspicuous white 
upper- works, the white band on the funnel, and the 
dark hull make her a different ship, so that, he tells 
me, on one occasion after passing a suspicious neutral 
steamer and not being quite satisfied, he was able to 
steam out of sight, change his ship's appearance, and 
then overtake her, get quite close and make a careful 
examination without revealing his identity. To the 
landsman all this may seem impossible, but inasmuch 
as the sea is traversed nowadays by steamers differing 
merely in minute details, distinguished only to the 


practised eye of the sailor, such deception is possible. 
I remember on one occasion during the war a sur- 
prising instance of this. Being in command of a 
steam drifter off the south-west Irish coast, I obtained 
Admiral Bayly's permission at my next refit to have 
the ship painted green, the foremast stepped, the 
funnel and markings painted differently, and a Dublin 
fishing letter and number painted on the bows, a suit- 
able name being found in the Fisherman's Almanack. 
The 6 -pounder gun forward was covered with fishing 
gear, which could be thrown overboard as soon as the 
ship came into action. Discarding naval uniform and 
wearing old cloth caps and clothes, we left Queens- 
town, steamed into Berehaven, and tied up alongside 
a patrol trawler with whom we had been working in 
company for nearly a year. The latter's crew never 
recognized us until they saw our faces, and even then 
insisted that we had got a new ship ! In fact, one of 
them asserted that he knew this Dublin drifter very 
well, at which my Scotch crew from the Moray Firth 
were vastly amused. 

Routine at sea of course differed in various Q-ships, 
but it may be interesting to set down the following, 
which prevailed in that well-organized ship Penshurst : 


4J r Call guns' crew of morning watch ; 3-pounder crew 

rt ^ oj ^' ^3is\\ up and stow. Guns' crew close up, uncover 

^ ^ '^ § ' guns, unship 6-pounder night-sights. Gunlayers 

jq 33 O W report their crews closed up to officei's of the 

P-i \ Avatch. 

5.30 a.m. Call cooks and stewards. 
6.0 a.m. 12-pounder crew and one of 3-pounder crew to wash 

down bridges and saloon-decks. 
7.0 a.m. Call guns' ci-ews of forenoon watch, lash up and 

stow hammocks. Hands to wash. 
7.30 a.m. Forenoon watch to breakfast. 

Q-sHip "Barranca" 
Disguised as a ditferent ship with yellow funnel and black boot-top. 

Q-SHip •' Barranca" 

Appearance cbanged by closing up alley-ways, painting hull, ship's boats, and 
funnel so as to resemble a freighter of the P. it O. Line. 

To face p. 222 


8.0 a.m. Change watches. Morning watch lash up and stow 
hammocks. Breakfast. 

9.0 a.m. Watch below clean mess-deck, etc. 

1 1.30 a.m. Afternoon watch to dinner. 

12.30 p.m. Change watches. Forenoon watch to dinner. 

1.30 p.m. Cooks clean up mess-deck. 

3.30 j).m. Tea. 

4.0 p.m. Change watches. Afternoon watch to tea. 

6.0 p.m. Change watches. 

7.0 p.m. Supper. 

8.0 p.m. Change watches. Watch below to supper. 

Sunset. Clean guns, ship 6"-pounder night-sights. Cover 
guns. Drill as required. 

A few weeks after the war, Lord Jellicoe remarked 
publicly that in the ' mystery ship ' there had been 
displayed a spirit of endurance, discipline, and courage, 
the like of which the world had never seen before. 
He added that he did not think the English people 
realized the wonderful work which these ships had 
done in the war. No one who reads the facts here 
presented can fail to agree with this statement, which, 
indeed, is beyond argument. Discipline, of course, 
there was, even in the apparently and externally 
most slovenly tramp Q-ship ; and it must not be 
thought that among so many crews of ' hard cases ' 
all the hands ^vere as harmless as china shepherd- 
esses. When ashore, the average sailor is not always 
at his best : his qualities are manifest on sea and in 
the worst perils pertaining to the sea. The landsman, 
therefore, has the opportunity of observing him when 
the sailor wants to forget about ships and seas. If 
some of the Q- ships' crews occasionally kicked over 
the traces in the early days the fault was partly their 
own, but partly it was as the result of circumstances. 
Even Q-ship crews were human, and after weeks of 
cruising and pent-up keenness, after being battered 
about by seas, shelled by submarines while lying in 


dreadful suspense, and then doing all that human 
nature could be expected to perform, much may be 
forgiven them if the attractions of the shore tempo- 
rarily overpowered them. In the early stages of the 
Q-ship the mistake was made of sending to them the 
' bad hats ' and impossible men of the depots ; but 
the foolishness of this was soon discovered. Only 
the best men were good enough for this special 
service, and as the men were well paid and well 
decorated in return for success, there was no difficulty 
in choosing from the forthcoming volunteers an ideal 
crew. Any Q-ship captain will bear testimony to 
the wonderful effect wrought on a crew by the first 
encounter with an enemy submarine. The average 
seaman has much in him of the simple child, and has 
to be taught by plain experience to see the use and 
necessity of monotonous routine, of drills and dis- 
cipline ; but having once observed in hard battle the 
value of obedience, of organization and the like, he is 
a different man — he looks at sea-life, in spite of its 
boredom, from a totally different angle. Perfect 
discipline usually spelled victory over the enemy. 
Presently that, in turn, indicated a medal ribbon and 
' a drop of leaf ' at home, so as to tell his family all 
about it. Never again would he overstay his leave : 
back to the ship for him to give further evidence of 
his prowess. 

This was the kind of fellow who could be relied 
upon to maintain at sea the gallant traditions of British 
seamanhood, and in their time of greatest peril the 
true big-souled character manifested itself, as real 
human truth always emerges in periods of crisis. I 
am thinking of one man who served loyally and faith- 
fully in a certain Q-ship. In one engagement this 
gallant British sailor while in the execution of his 


duty was blown literally to pieces except for an arm, 
a leg in a sea-boot, and the rest a mere shattered, 
indescribable mass, his blood and flesh being scattered 
everywhere by the enemy's attack. And yet the last 
words of this good fellow, spoken just before it was 
too late, did much to help the Q-ship in her success. 
In a previous engagement this man's gun had the 
misfortune to start with seven missfires. This was 
owing to ammunition rendered faulty by having been 
kept on the deck too long as ' ready-use.' Conse- 
quently his gun did not come into action as quickly 
as the others. This piece of bad luck greatly upset 
such a keen warrior, and he was determined that no 
such accident should occur again. Therefore, in the 
next fight, just as he was crouching with his gun's 
crew behind the bridge-screen, he was heard to say to 
his mates : ' Now, mind. We're to be the first gun in 
action this time.' Immediately afterwards a shell 
came and killed him instantaneously. 

Or, again, consider the little human touch in the 
case of the Q-ship commanded by Lieut. -Commander 
McLeod, which had been ' done in ' and was sinking, 
so that she had really to be abandoned. When all 
were getting away in the boats, Lieut. -Commander 
McLeod's servant was found to be missing. At the 
last moment he suddenly reappeared, carrying with 
him a bag which he had gone back to fetch. In it 
was Lieut.-Commander McLeod's best monkey- 
jacket. ' I thought as you might want this, sir, seeing 
you'll have to go and see the Admiral when we get 
back to Queenstown,' was his cool explanation. 
Nothing could crush this kind of spirit, which pre- 
vailed in the trenches, the air, and on sea until the 
Armistice was won. It is the spirit of our forefathers, 
the inheritance of our island race, which, notwith- 



standing political and domestic tribulations, lies silent, 
dormant, undemonstrative, until the great hour comes 
for the best that is in us to show itself. Germany, of 
course, had her disguised armed ships, such as the 
3Ioewe, the JVolf, and so on, and with them our late 
enemies performed unquestionably brilliant work all 
over the world. It is true, also, that a similar 
achievement was attained in one disguised sailing 
ship ; nor can we fail to admire the pluck and enter- 
prise which enabled them to get through the British 
blockade. To belittle such first-class work would be 
to turn one's back on plain truth. 

But the Q-ship service was not a short series of 
three or four spasms, but took its part in the persistent 
prosecution of the anti-submarine campaign. It 
remained a perpetual thorn in the enemy's side, and 
it was a most dangerous thorn. Unlike the U-boat 
service in its later stages, it continued to be composed 
of volunteers, and it was certainly the means of 
bringing to light extraordinary talent and courage. 
Like other children, the seaman loves dressing up and 
acting. In the Q-ship he found this among the other 
attractions, of which not the least was the conscious 
joy of taking a big share in the greatest of all wars. 
In one Q-ship alone were earned no fewer than four 
D.S.O.'s and three bars, five D.S.C.'s and seven bars, 
one Croix de Guerre, and six ' mentions ' among the 
officers. Among the men this ship earned twenty- 
one D.S.M.'s and four bars, as well as three ' mentions.' 
To-day as you pass some tired old tramp at sea, or 
watch a begrimed steamer taking in a cargo of coals, 
you may be gazing at a ship as famous as Grenville's 
Revenge or Drake's Golden Hind. At the end of 
the war the Admiralty decided to place a memorial 
tablet on board each merchant vessel that had acted 


as a decoy during the war, the tablet being suitably 
inscribed with details of the gallant ship's service, 
together with the names of the commanding officer 
and members of the crew who received decorations. 
The first of these ships so to be commemorated 
was the Lodorer, better known to us as Captain 
Campbell's Q-ship Farnborough. After hostilities, 
in the presence of representatives of the owners and 
tlie iMinistry of Shipping, Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander 
Duff unveiled Lodoj^efs tablet, and those who read it 
may well think and reflect. 



In the spring of 1917 there was a 2,905-ton steamship, 
called the Bracondale, in the employment of the 
Admiralty as a collier. It was decided that she 
would make a very useful Q-ship, so at the begin- 
ning of April she was thus commissioned and her 
name changed to Chagford. She was fitted out at 
Devonport and armed with a 4-inch, two 12-pounders, 
and a couple of torpedo tubes, and was ready for sea 
at the end of June. Commanded by Lieutenant 
D. G. Jeffrey, R.N. R., she proceeded to Falmouth 
in order to tune everything up, and then was based 
on Buncrana, which she left on August 2 for what 
was to be her last cruise, and I think that in the 
following story we have another instance of heroism 
and pertinacity of great distinction. 

Chagford' s position on August 5 at 4.10 a.m. was 
roughly 120 miles north-west of Tory Island, and she 
was endeavouring to find two enemy submarines which 
had been reported on the previous day. At the time 
mentioned she was herself torpedoed just below the 
bridge, and in this one explosion was caused very 
great injury : for it disabled both her torpedo tubes 
and her 4-inch gun ; it shattered the boats on the 
starboard side as well as the captain's cabin and chart 
room. In addition, it also wrecked all the voice-pipe 
connections to the torpedo tubes and guns, and it 



flooded the engine-room and put the engines out of 
commission, kiUing one of the crew. Lieutenant 
Jeffrey therefore ' abandoned ' ship, and just as the 
boats were getting away two periscopes and a sub- 
marine were sighted on the starboard side 800 yards 
away. As soon as the enemy came to the surface 
fire was opened on her by the two 12-pounders and 
both Lewis and machine-guns, several direct hits 
being observed. The submarine then dived, but at 
4.40 a.m. she fired a second torpedo at Chagford, 
which hit the ship abaft the bridge on the starboard 

From the time the first torpedo had hit, the enemy 
reahzed that Chagford was a warship, for the 4-inch 
gun and torpedo tubes had been made visible, and 
now that the second explosion had come Lieutenant 
Jeffrey decided to recall his boats so that the ship 
might genuinely be abandoned. The lifeboat, dinghy, 
and a barrel raft were accordingly filled, and about 
5.30 a.m. the enemy fired a third torpedo, which 
struck also on the starboard side. Having sent 
away in the boats and raft everyone with the ex- 
ception of himself and a lieutenant, R.N.R., two 
sub-Heutenants, R.N.R., also an assistant-paymaster, 
R.N.R., and one petty officer, Lieutenant Jeffrey 
stationed these in hiding under cover of the fo'c'sle 
and poop, keeping a smart look-out, however, through 
the scuttles. 

Here was another doomed ship rolling about in the 
Atlantic without her crew, and only a gallant handful 
of British seamanhood still standing by with but a 
shred of hope. To accentuate their suspense peri- 
scopes were several times seen, and from 9 a.m. until 
9 p.m. a submarine frequently appeared on the 
surface at long range, and almost every hour a peri- 


scope passed round the ship inspecting her cautiously. 
During the whole of this time Cfiagford was settling 
down gradually but certainly. At dark Lieutenant 
Jeffrey, fearing that the enemy might attempt board- 
ing, placed Lewis and Maxim guns in position and 
served out rifles and bayonets to all. Midnight 
came, and after making a further examination of the 
damage, Lieutenant Jeffrey realized that it was im- 
possible for the Chagford to last much longer, for 
her main deck amidships was split from side to side, 
the bridge deck was badly buckled, and the whole 
ship was straining badly. Therefore, just before 
half-past midnight, these five abandoned the ship in 
a small motor- boat which they had picked up at sea 
some days previously, but before quitting Chagford 
they disabled the guns, all telescopic sights and 
strikers being removed. 

Having shoved off, they found to their dismay 
that there were no tanks in the motor-boat, so she 
had to be propelled by a couple of oars, and it will 
readily be appreciated that this kind of propulsion in 
the North Atlantic was not a success. They then 
thought of going back to the ship, but before they 
could do so they were fortunately picked up at 
7.30 a.m. by H.M. trawler Saxon, a large submarine 
having been seen several times on the horizon between 
4 and 7 a.m. The trawler then proceeded to hunt 
for the submarine, but, as the latter had now made 
off, volunteers were called for and went aboard 
Chagford, so that by 4 p.m. Saxon had commenced 
towing her. Bad luck again overcame their efforts, 
for wind and sea had been steadily increasing, and of 
course there was no steam, so the heavy work of 
handling cables had all to be done by hand. Until 
the evening the ship towed fairly well at 2 knots, 


but, as she seemed then to be breaking up, the tow- 
rope had to be shpped, and just before eight o'clock 
next morning (August 7) she took a final plunge and 
disappeared. The Saxon made for the Scottish coast 
and landed the survivors at Oban on the morning of 
the eighth. In this encounter, difficult as it was, 
Chagford had done real service, for she had damaged 
the submarine so much that she could not submerge, 
and this was probably U 44 which H.M.S. Oracle 
sighted in the early hours of August 12 off the north 
coast of Scotland, evidently bound to Germany. 
Orach chased her ; U 44 kept diving and coming to 
the surface after a short Avhile. She had disguised 
herself as a trawler, and was obviously unable to dive 
except for short periods. Oracle shelled and then 
rammed her, so that U 44 was destroyed and Chagford 
avenged. Nothing more was seen of Chagford except 
some wreckage found by a trawler on August 11, who 
noticed the word Bracondale on the awnings. 

After Lieutenant Jeffrey and crew had returned to 
their base they proceeded to fit out the 2,794-ton 
S.S. Arvonian. This was to be a very powerful 
Q-ship, for she was armed with three 4-inch guns 
instead of one, in addition to three 12-pounders, two 
Maxim guns, and actually four 18-inch torpedo tubes. 
She was, in fact, a light cruiser, except for speed and 
appearance, but the Chagford crew were destined to 
disappointment, for this is what happened. The 
reader will recollect that in her engagement of June 7, 
1917, Captain Campbell's famous ship Pargust 
received so much damage that she had to be left in 
dockyard hands while he and his crew went to sea in 
the Dunraven. Now, at the beginning of October 
Admiral Sims asked the British Admiralty for a ship 
to carry out this decoy work, and to be manned by 


the United States Navy. The Admiralty therefore 
selected Pargust, and Admiral Sims then assigned 
her to the U.S.N, forces based on Queenstown. Her 
repairs, however, took rather a longer time than had 
been hoped ; in fact, she was not finished and com- 
missioned again until the following May, so it was 
decided to pay off Arvonian on November 26, 1917, 
and she was then recommissioned with a United 
States crew under Commander D. C. Hanrahan, 
U.S.N., and changed her name to Santee. By the 
time she left Queenstown for her maiden cruise she 
was a very wonderful ship. Her 4-inch guns had 
been disguised by being recessed, and by such con- 
cealments as lifebuoy lockers, hatch covers, and so on. 
The 12-pounder gun aft had a tilting mounting, as 
also had the two 12-pounders forward at the break of 
the fo'c'sle on either side. Thus they were concealed, 
but could be instantly brought into position. Her 
four torpedo tubes were arranged so that there was 
one on each beam, one to fire right ahead, and one to 
fire right astern. She also boasted of a searchlight, a 
wireless set, and an emergency wireless apparatus. 
She had two lifeboats, two skiffs, two Carley floats, 
and also a motor-boat. She was thus the last word 
in Q-ship improvements, and embodied all the lessons 
which had been learnt by bitter and tragic experience. 
Two days after Christmas, 1917, she left Queenstown 
at dusk on her way to Bantry Bay to train her crew, 
but in less than five hours she was torpedoed. It 
was no disgrace, but a sheer bit of hard luck which 
might have happened to any other officer, British or 
American. Commander Hanrahan was one of the 
ablest and keenest destroyer captains of the American 
Navy, and no one who had ever been aboard his ship 
could fail to note his efficiency. He had been one of 


the early destroyer arrivals when the United States 
that summer had begun to send their destroyer 
divisions across the Atlantic to Queenstown, and he 
had done most excellent work. 

But on this night his Q-ship career came to a 
sudden stop, though not before everything possible 
had been done to entrap the enemy. It was one of 
those cloudy, moonlight, wintry nights with good 
visibility. As might have been expected under such 
a captain there was a total absence of confusion ; all 
hands went to their stations, the ' panic ' party got 
away in accordance with the best ' panic ' traditions, 
while on board the crews remained at their gun 
stations for five hours, hoping and longing for the 
submarine to show herself. No such good fortune 
followed, for the submarine was shy ; so just before 
midnight Commander Hanrahan sent a wireless 
message to Admiral Bayly at Queenstown, and very 
shortly afterwards the U.S. destroyer Cuitwihigs 
arrived. At 1 a.m. the tug Paladin took Santee in 
tow, escorted by four United States destroyers and 
the two British sloops Viola and Bluebell. Santee 
got safely into port and was sent to Devonport, where 
she was eventually handed back by the U.S.N, to the 
British Navy, owing to the time involved in repairs. 
On June 4, 1918, she was once more recommissioned 
in the Royal Navy and took the name of Bendish, the 
crew having come from the Q-ship Starmount. By 
this date the conditions of submarine warfare had 
undergone a modification. In home waters it was 
only the quite small Q-ships of the coaster type, of 
about 500 tons, which could be expected to have any 
chance of successfully engaging a submarine. This 
class would normally be expected to be seen within 
the narrow seas, and the enemy would not be so 


shy. But for such vessels as Bendish and Pargiist 
the most promising sphere was likely to be between 
Gibraltar and the Azores and the north-west coast of 
Africa, where German so-called ' cruiser ' submarines 
of the DeiUschland type were operating. Therefore a 
special force, based on Gibraltar but operating in the 
Azores area or wherever submarines were to be 
expected, was organized, consisting of four Q-ships. 
These were the Bendish (late Santee), Captain 
Campbell's former ship Pargust but now named the 
Pangloss, the Underwing, and the Marshfort^ the 
whole squadron being under the command of Lieut. - 
Commander Dane in Bendish. After being at last 
ready for sea in May, 1918, Pangloss, commanded by 
Lieutenant Jeffrey, who for his fine work in Chagford 
had received the D.S.O., had then been assigned 
to serve under the Vice-Admiral Northern Patrols 
until she was sent south. 

Under the new scheme just mentioned these four 
Q-ships were so worked that they always arrived 
and sailed from Gibraltar as part of the convoy of 
merchant ships, from which class they could not be 
distinguished. But already long before this date 
Q-ships had been employed in such distant waters. 
For instance, in the middle of November, 1916, the 
BaiTanca (Lieut. -Commander S. C. Douglas, R.N.) 
was sent from Queenstown via Devonport, and 
proceeded to operate in the neighbourhood of Madeira 
and the Canaries, based on Gibraltar. This ship, 
known officially as Q 3 (alias Eclmnga), had been 
taken over from Messrs. Elders and FyfFes, Ltd. Her 
registered tonnage was 4,115, and she had a speed of 
14 knots, so she was eminently fitted for this kind 
of work. She had been employed as a Q-ship since 
June, 1916, and was armed with a 4-inch, two 

Q-sHip Tkansformation 
Crew painting funnel while at sea (see pp. 220-1). 

Q-SHiP "Barranca" at Sea 
The look-out man aft is disguised as one of the Mercantile crew. The dummy 
wheel, dummy sky-light, and dummy deck-house are seen. The latter con- 
cealed a 4-inch gun and two 12-pounders. 

To face p. 234 



12-pounders, and two G-pounders, and terminated lier 
service in the following 5lay. Her captain had been 
one of the earliest officers to be employed in decoy 
work, having been second in command to Lieut. - 
Commander Godfrey Herbert when that officer com- 
manded the Antwerp. Soon after this date the Q-ship 
UunclutJia left for that part of the Atlantic which 
is between the north-east coast of South America and 
north-west coast of Africa. This ship, together with 
Oo?na, both of them being vessels of between 3,000 
and 4,000 tons, had commenced their special service 
at the end of 1910 and been sent to work under 
the British Commodore off the east coast of South 
America in the hope of falling in with one of the 
German raiders, such as the Moeive. In May, 1918, 
both these vessels had to be withdrawn from such 
service, as the shortage of tonnage had become acute, 
and were required to load general cargo in a Brazilian 
port. Another of these overseas Q-ships was the 
Bomhala (alias IVillow Branch). She was a 3,314-ton 
steamer and had left Gibraltar on April 18, 1918, for 
Sierra Leone, A week later, off the West African 
coast, she sighted a submarine off the port quarter, 
and a few minutes later a second one off the starboard 
bow. Both submarines opened their attack with 
shells, this class of submarine being armed with a 
couple of 5-9-inch guns. After about thirty rounds 
the enemy had found the range, and then began to 
hit the ship repeatedly, carrying away the wireless 
and causing many casualties. Bombala shortened the 
range so that she could use her 4-inch and 14-pounder, 
and the action went on for two and a half hours. By 
that time Bombala was done for, and it was impossible 
to save the ship ; so the crew were ordered into the 
boats, and then the ship foundered, bows first. How- 


ever, the Q-ship had not sunk without severely 
damagmg the enemy, for when the submarines came 
alongside Bombalas boats it was found that in one of 
the submarines there were seven killed and four 

Q-ships were kept pretty busy, too, in the Medi- 
terranean. On March 11, 1917, when Wonganella 
(Lieut. -Commander B. J. D. Guy, R.N.) was on her 
way from Malta to England via Gibraltar, she was 
shelled by a submarine, and while the ' panic ' party 
were getting out the boats, a shell wounded the 
officer and several of the crew in the starboard life- 
boat. Another shell went through the bulwarks of 
the ship, wounding some men and bursting the 
steam-pipe of the winch, thus rendering unworkable 
the derrick used for hoisting out the third boat, and 
the port lifeboat was also damaged. Shells burst in 
the well deck and holed the big boat, so in this case, 
as all his boats were ' done in,' the captain had to 
give up the idea of ' abandoning ' ship. There was 
nothing for it but to open fire, though it was not 
easy for orders to be heard in that indescribable din 
when shells were bursting, steam pouring out from 
the burst winch-pipe, wounded men in great pain, 
and Wonganella s own boiler-steam blowing off with 
its annoying roar. As soon as fire was opened, the 
submarine dived and then fired a torpedo, which was 
avoided by Wonganella going astern with her engines, 
the torpedo just missing the ship's fore-foot by 10 feet. 
No more was seen of the enemy, and at dusk the 
armed steam yacht lolanda was met, from whom a 
doctor was obtained, thus saving the lives of several 
of the wounded. In this engagement, whilst the 
White Ensign was being hoisted, the signal halyards 
were shot away, so the ensign had to be carried up 
the rigging and secured thereto. 


Wonganella was holed on the water-hne and hit 
elsewhere, but she put into Gibraltar on March 13, 
and on the evening of June 19 of the same year we 
find her out in the Atlantic west of the south-west 
Irish coast on her way homeward-bound from Halifax. 
A submarine bore down on her from the north, and 
at the long range of 8,000 yards was soon straddling 
Wonganella. Now the Q-ship happened to have on 
board thirty survivors from a steamer recently sunk, 
so again it was impossible to attempt the ' abandon 
ship ' deception. She therefore used her smoke-screen 
— at this time ships were being supplied with special 
smoke- making apparatus — and then ran down the 
wind at varying speeds and on various courses, with 
the hope that the enemy would chase quickly. Won- 
ganella would then turn in the smoke-cloud and 
suddenly emerge and close the enemy at a more 
suitable range. But the best-laid schemes of Q-ships 
are subject to the laws of chance, for now there 
appeared another merchant ship heading straight 
towards this scene, and thus unwittingly frustrated 
the further development of the encounter. This 
'merchant ship' was the Q-ship Aubrietia (Q 13), 
who did, in fact, receive a signal from Wonganella 
that no assistance was required ; but by that time it 
was too late to withdraw. The submarine, after 
shelling Wonganella through the smoke, abandoned 
the attack and withdrew without ever scoring a hit. 

During all these months the disguised steam 
trawlers were continuing their arduous work. On 
August 20, 1916, the Gunner from Grant on engaged 
a submarine during the afternoon, but the German 
subsequently dived. Gu?me?^ then proceeded on a 
westerly course whilst she altered her disguise, and 
then that same evening encountered this submarine 


again, shelled her, but once more the enemy broke 
off the fight. The disguised Granton trawler Speed- 
well was also operating in a manner similar to Gunner, 
and in the following March the trawler Commissioner 
began her decoy work. She was a 161 -ton ship armed 
with a 12-pounder, her method of working being as 
follows: Lieutenant F. W. Charles, R.N.R., was in 
command of the fighting portion of the crew, but her 
fishing skipper was otherwise in charge of the ship. 
Commissioner proceeded to join the Granton fishing 
fleet, looking like any other steam trawler, and then 
shot her trawl and carried on like the rest of the fleet. 
When a submarine should appear Commissioner would 
cut away her fishing gear and then attack the enemy. 
Such an occasion actually occurred the very day after 
she first joined the fishing fleet, but the submarine 
was not sunk. 

A similar decoy was the Granton steam trawler 
Rosskeen, which left the Firth of Forth to 'fish' 
about 20 miles east of the Longstone. Three days 
later she was just about to shoot her trawl when a 
shot came whistling over her wheelhouse, and a large 
submarine was then seen 8,000 yards away. After 
twenty minutes, during which the enemy's shells fell 
uncomfortably close, Rosskeen cut away her gear and 
'abandoned' ship. The submarine then obligingly 
approached on the surface towards the rowing boat, 
and when the range was down to 1,200 yards Ross- 
keen,w\\o was armed with a 12-pounder and 6-pounder, 
opened fire from the former and hit the submarine, 
the conning-tower being very badly damaged by the 
third shot. Two more shells got home, and by this 
time the enemy had had enough, and dived. 

These trawlers were undoubtedly both a valuable 
protection to the fishermen (who had been repeatedly 


attacked by the enemy) and a subtle trap for some 
of the less experienced submarine captains. During 
May two more trawlers, the Strathallan and Strath- 
earn, were similarly commissioned, and even steam 
drifters such as the Fort George (armed with one 
G-pounder) were employed in this kind of work. On 
the thirteenth of June Strathearn was fishing 19 miles 
east of the Bell Rock when five shots were fired at 
her, presumably by a submarine, though owing to 
the hazy weather nothing could be seen. The enemy 
then evidently sighted a destroyer and disappeared. 
On the following day Fort George was fishing about 
35 miles east of May Island, when she was attacked 
by submarine at 2,000 yards. It was ten o'clock at 
night, and the drifter, after the third round, secured 
her fishing gear and returned the fire. The enemy 
was evidently surprised, for after the drifter had fired 
three shells the German broke off the engagement 
and submerged, but with his fourth and fifth rounds 
he had hit Fort George, killing two and wounding 
another couple. 

But on the following twenty-eighth of January 
Fort George was about 14 miles east of May Island, 
with the decoy trawler IV. S. Baileij (Lieutenant 
C. H. Hudson, D.S.C., R.N.R.). the two ships 
were listening on their hydrophones when a sub- 
marine was distinctly heard some distance away, and 
it was assumed that the enemy was steering for May 
Island, so the W. S. Bailey after proceeding for a 
quarter of an hour in that direction listened again, 
and the sounds w^ere heard more plainly. For an 
hour and a half the enemy was determinedly hunted, 
and just after 9 p.m. the sounds became very distinct, 
so the trawler steamed full speed ahead in the sub- 
marine's direction, dropped a depth charge, listened, 


and then, as the enemy was still heard on the hydro- 
phone, a second charge was dropped. The trawler 
then went full speed astern to check her way, and 
just as she was stopping there were sighted two 
periscopes not 20 yards away, on the starboard 
quarter, and going full speed. The trawler then 
dropped a third depth charge over the spot where 
the periscopes had disappeared, and nothing further 
was heard on the hydrophone, but a fourth charge 
was then let go to make sure, and the position was 
buoyed, and the disguised craft remained in the 
vicinity until January 30. A few days later the 
W. S. Bailey swept with her chain- sweep over the 
position, and on each occasion the sweep brought up 
in the place that had been buoyed, and a quantity of 
oil was seen. Local fishermen accustomed to working 
their gear along this bottom reported that the ob- 
struction was quite new. In short, the W. S. Bailey 
had succeeded in destroying UB 63, a submarine 
about 180 feet long and well armed with a 4*1 -inch 
gun and torpedoes. For this useful service Lieutenant 
Hudson received a bar to his D.S.C., while Skipper 
J. H. Lawrence, R.N.R., was awarded the D.S.C. 

Thus, in all waters and in all manner of ships wear- 
ing every kind of disguise, the shy submarine was 
being tempted and sought out, though every month 
decoy work was becoming more and more difficult : 
for though you might fool the whole German sub- 
marine service in the early stages of Q-ships, it was 
impossible that you could keep on bluffing all of them 
every time. The most that could be expected was 
that as a reward for your constant vigilance and per- 
fect organization you might one day catch him off his 
guard through his foolishness or lack of experience or 
incautiousness. But every indecisive action made it 



worse for the Q-ships, for that vessel was a mark for 
future attack and the enemy's inteUigence department 
was thereby enriched, and outgoing submarines could 
be warned against such a trawler or such a tramp 
whose guns had a dead sector on such a bearing. 
Thus an inefficient Q-ship captain would be a danger 
not merely to himself and his men, but to the rest of 
the force. Nothing succeeds like success, and there 
was nothing so useful as to make a clean job of the 
submarine-sinking, so that he could never get back 
home and tell the news. Surprise, whether in real 
life or fiction, is a factor that begins to lose its power 
in proportion to its frequency of use. It was so in 
the Q-ships, and that is why, after a certain point had 
been reached, this novel method became so difficult 
and so barren in results. 




The unrestricted phase of submarine warfare insti- 
tuted in February, 1917, had, apart from other means, 
been met by an increase in the number of Q-ships, so 
that by the end of May there were close upon eighty 
steamers and sailing craft either being fitted out as 
decoys or already thus employed. By far the greater 
number of the big Q-ships were serving under 
Admiral Bayly, the other large craft being based on 
Longhope, Portsmouth, the south-east of England, 
and Malta. Of the smaller types, such as trawlers 
and sailing ships, no fewer than one-half were based 
on Granton, under Admiral Startin, the rest of these 
little vessels working out of Stornoway, Longhope, 
Peterhead, Lowestoft, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Fal- 
mouth, Milford Haven, and Malta. 

One of the moderate-sized Q-steamers was the 
1,680-ton Stonecrop, alias Glenfoyle, which was armed 
with a 4-inch, a 12-pounder, and four 200-lb. howit- 
zers. She had begun her special service at the end of 
May, 1917, under Commander M. B. R. Blackwood, 
R.N. She was very slow, and her captain found her 
practically unmanageable in anything of a head wind 
and sea. Her first cruise was in the English Channel, 
and she left Portsmouth on August 22. Three days 
later when 15 miles south of the Scillies she saw a 
large steamer torpedoed and sunk. Stonecrop herself 



was caught in bad weather, and had to run before the 
gale and sea towing an oil bag astern. Arriving back 
at Portsmouth she needed a few repairs, and left again 
on September 11 to cruise off the western approaches 
of the British Isles. Six days later she was off the 
south-west coast of Ireland steering a westerly course 
when a submarine was seen on the surface. This was 
the U 88, one of the biggest types, over 200 feet long, 
armed with a 4*l-inch and a 22-pounder, plus tor- 
pedoes. It was now 4.40 p.m., and though the enemy 
was still several miles away he opened fire three 
minutes later with both guns. Stonecrop accordingly 
pretended to flee from his wrath, turned 16 points, 
made off at her full speed (which was only 7 knots), 
made S.O.S. signals on her wireless, followed by 
' Hurry up or I shall have to abandon ship ' — oi clair 
so that the submarine should read it. And in order 
further still to simulate a defensively armed merchant 
ship she replied with her after gun. 

Thus it went on until .5.15 p.m., by which time the 
submarine had not registered a hit and was gradually 
closing : but most of the shells were falling very near 
to the steamer, so that the German might easily have 
supposed they were hits. In order to fool the enemy 
further still Commander Blackwood had his smoke 
apparatus now lit. This was most successful, the 
whole ship becoming enveloped in smoke and seeming 
to be on fire. A quarter of an hour later Stonecrop 
' abandoned ' ship, sending away also a couple of 
hands in uniform to represent the men from the 
deserted defensive gun. The submarine then dis- 
played the usual tactics : submerged, came slowly 
towards the ship, passing down the port side, round- 
ing the stern, and then came to the surface 600 yards 
off' the starboard quarter, displaying the whole of his 


length. For three minutes the British and German 
captains remained looking at each other, the former, 
of course, from his position of concealment. But at 
ten minutes past six, as there were still no signs of 
anyone coming out of the conning-tower hatch, and 
as the U-boat seemed about to make for Stonecrop's 
boats, Captain Blackwood decided this was the critical 
moment and gave the order. From the 4- inch gun 
and all howitzers there suddenly poured across the 
intervening 600 yards a very hot fire, which had 
unmistakable effect : for the fourth shot hit the base 
of the conning-tower, causing a large explosion and 
splitting the conning-tower in two. The fifth shot 
got her just above the water-line under the foremost 
gun, the sixth struck between that gun and the 
conning-tower, the seventh hit 30 feet from the end 
of the hull, the eighth got her just at the angle of the 
conning-tower and deck, the ninth and tenth shells 
came whizzing on to the water-line between the after 
gun and conning-tower, whilst the eleventh hit the 
deck just abaft the conning-tower and tearing it up. 
Good gunnery, certainly ! 

This was about as much as the stunned submarine 
could stand, and forging ahead she suddenly sub- 
merged and sank stern first, but a few seconds later 
she rose to the surface with a heavy list to starboard, 
and then sank for good and all. For, on submerging, 
she had found she was leaking so badly that her con- 
dition was hopeless, and she was doubtless intending 
to surrender, but apparently the fourth shot from 
Stonecrop had so damaged the conning-tower hatch 
that it could not be opened. Thus there perished 
U 88, but this was more than the sinking of an 
ordinary submarine, for with her there went to his 
doom Lieut. -Commander Schwieger, who, when in 



command of U 20, had sunk the Lusitaiiia on May 7, 
1915, with the loss of over eleven hundred men, 
women, and children. Altogether Stofiec?'op\s- action 
had been very neat. He had lured the enemy into a 
short range, utterly fooled him, and then disabled him 
before he woke up. For this service Commander 
Blackwood received the D.S.O., and three ll.N.R. 
lieutenants and a naval warrant officer each received 
a D.S.C. But Q-ship life was always full of un- 
certainties, for on the very next day Stonecrop was 
herself torpedoed by another submarine at 1 p.m., 
though fortunately this was in a position a little nearer 
the coast. Two officers and twenty survivors were 
picked up by a motor-launch of the Auxiliary Patrol 
and landed at Berehaven ; sixty-four men in one boat 
and a raft were remaining behind, but all available 
craft were sent out to rescue them. 

The employment of small coasting steamers was, 
during the last phase of the war, more and more 
developed. What the Q-ship captain liked was that 
the enemy should attack him not with torpedoes but 
with gunfire. Now, even the biggest German sub- 
marines carried usually not more than ten torpedoes, 
and inasmuch as his cruise away from any base lasted 
weeks, and, in the case of the JDeutschland class, even 
months, it was obvious that the U-boat had to con- 
serve his torpedoes for those occasions which were 
really worth while. From this it follows that a sub- 
marine captain who knew his work, and was anxious 
to make a fine haul before ending his cruise, would 
not, as a rule, waste his torpedoes on a 500-ton 
steamer when he might have secured much bigger 
tonnage by using the same missile against a 20,000-ton 

This suggested an avenue of thought, and as early 


as January, 1918, the matter was considered by 
Admiral Bayly and developed. Already there were 
in existence several small vessels acting as Q-ships, 
but simultaneously carrying out in all respects the 
duties of cargo-carriers from port to port, and thus 
paying their way. It was now decided to look for a 
little steamer which, based on Queenstown, would 
work between the Bristol Channel, Irish Sea, and the 
south coast of Ireland, where even during the height 
of the submarine campaign it was customary to see 
such craft. As a result of this decision Captain 
Gordon Campbell was sent to inspect the S.S. Wexford 
Coast, which was being repaired at Liverpool. Her 
gross tonnage was only 423, she had a well deck, 
three masts, and engines placed aft : just the ordinary- 
looking, innocent steamer that would hardly attract a 
torpedo. Owned by Messrs. Powell, Bacon, Hough, 
and Co., of Liverpool, this vessel had already done 
valuable work in the war; for in 1915 she had been 
requisitioned for store- carrying in the Dardanelles, 
where she was found invaluable in keeping the troops 
supplied, and when that campaign came to an end 
assisted at the evacuation. Returning to England, 
she was again sent out as a store- carrier, this time to 
the White Sea. Wexford Coast was now taken up 
as a Q-ship, her fitting-out being supervised by Lieut. - 
Commander L. S. Boggs, R.N.R., who had been in 
command of the Q-ship Tamarisk, and from the last 
ship came a large part of her new crew. She was 
duly armed, and fitted with a cleverly concealed wire- 
less aerial, to be used only in case of emergency, and 
was then commissioned on JNIarch 13, 1918, as ' Store- 
Carrier No. 80,' this title being for the purpose of 
preserving secrecy. She put to sea in her dual 
capacity, but on August 31 had the misfortune to be 


run into by the French S.S. Bidart, six miles south- 
east of the Start, at four o'clock in the morning — 
another instance of this fatal hour for collisions. The 
Frenchman grounded on the Skerries and capsized, 
and the We.vford Coast had to put in to Devonport. 
After the sinking of the Q-ship Stoch force (to be 
related presently), Admiral Bayly wished the captain 
and crew of the latter to be appointed to a coaster 
similar to Wexjord Coast, so the Suffolk Coast was 
chosen at the beginning of August whilst she was 
lying in the Firth of Forth. Before the end of the 
month she had arrived at QueenstoAvn, where she was 
fitted out. On November 10 she set out from 
Queenstown, but on the following day came the 
Armistice, which spoiled her ambitions. However, in 
this, the latest of all Q-ships, we see the development 
so clearly that it will not be out of place here to 
anticipate dates and give her description. 

Suffolk Coast was intentionally the most ordinary- 
looking little coaster, with three masts, her engines 
and funnel being placed aft, and the very last thing 
she resembled was a man-of-war. But she was 
heavily armed for so small a ship. In her were 
embodied all the concentrated experience of battle 
and engineering development. All that could be 
learned from actual fighting, from narrow escapes, 
and from defects manifested in awkward moments 
was here taken advantage of. Instead of a 12-knot 
4,000-ton steamer the development had, owing to the 
trend of the campaign, been in the direction of a ship 
one-eighth of the size, but more cleverly disguised 
with better 'gadgets.' In fact, instead of being a 
model of simplicity as in the early days, the Q-ship 
had become a veritable box of tricks. It was the 
triumph of mind over material, of brain over battle. 


Coolness and bravery and resolute endurance were 
just as requisite in the last as in the first stages of the 
campaign, but the qualities of scientific bluff' had 
attained the highest value. The basic principle was 
extreme offensive power combined with outward 
innocence : the artfulness of the eagle, but the 
appearance of a dove. 

In Suffolk Coast there was one long series of 
illusions from forward to aft. On the fo'c'sle head 
was a quite usual wire reel such as is used in this 
class of ship for winding in a wire rope. But this reel 
had been hollowed out inside so as to allow the 
captain to con the ship. Near by was also a peri- 
scope, but this was disguised by being hidden in a 
stove-pipe such as would seem to connect with the 
crew's heating arrangements below. Now this was 
not merely a display of ingenuity but an improve- 
ment based on many a hard case. What frequently 
happened after the ' abandon ship ' party pushed off ? 
As we have seen, this was often the time when the 
real fight began, and the enemy would shell the bridge 
to make sure no living thing could remain. That 
being so, the obvious position for the captain was to 
be away from the bridge, though it broke away from 
all the traditions of the sea. In Suffolk Coast the 
enemy could continue sweeping the bridge, but the 
captain would be under the shelter of the fo'c'sle head 
and yet watching intently. Similarly both he and his 
men need not, in passing fi'om the bridge or one end 
of the ship to another, be exposed to the enemy's fire, 
for an ingenious tunnel was made right into the fo'c'sle 
through the hold. In a similar manner, if the forward 
part of the ship had been ' done in,' there was a peri- 
scope aft disguised as a pipe coming up from the 
galley stove. 


Now, when a submarine started shelling a Q-ship, the 
latter would naturally heave-to and then pretend she 
had been disabled by being hit in the engine-room. 
This was achieved by fitting a pipe specially arranged 
to let steam issue forth. The importance of wireless 
in these death-struggles may well be realized, so not 
merely was one wireless cabinet placed below, but 
another was situated in the fo'c'sle. The Suffolk Coast, 
with her two 4-inch and two 12-pounders, was armed 
in a manner superior to any submarines excepting 
those of the biggest classes such as voyaged south to the 
Canaries and north-west African coast. This Q- ship's 
guns were concealed in the most wonderfully ingenious 
manner, so that it would have puzzled even a sea- 
man to discover their presence. Thus the forward 
12-pounder was mounted in No. 1 hold, the hatch 
being suitably arranged for collapsing. The first 
4-inch gun was placed further aft, covered by a deck, 
and the sides made to fall down when the time came 
for action. The second 4-inch was mounted still 
further aft and similarly concealed, whilst the other 
12-pounder was allowed to be conspicuous at the 
stern so that all U-craft might believe she was the 
usual defensively armed merchant ship. Without 
this they might have become suspicious. In this 
' mystery ship ' everything was done to render her 
capable of remaining afloat for the maximum of time 
after injury, and, in addition to having a well- stowed 
cargo of timber, she had special watertight bulkheads 
fitted. With a thorough system of voice-pipes, so 
that the captain could keep a perfect control over the 
ship's firing — a most essential consideration, as the 
reader will already have ascertained — and a crew of 
nearly fifty experienced officers and men, such a small 
ship represented the apotheosis of the decoy just as 


the war was terminating. Every sort of scheme 
which promised possibiHties was tried, and many- 
clever minds had been at work, but this represented 
the standard of success after four long years. 

Every new aspect of the submarine advancement 
had to be thought out and met, and the variations 
were most noticeable, but during the last few months 
of the war considerable attention had to be concen- 
trated on the areas of the Azores, the north, south, 
east, and west of Ireland, the Bristol Channel, and 
the approaches to the English Channel in the west. 
But by the spring of 1918 the crews of German 
submarines had become distinctly inferior. Their 
commanding officers were often young and raw, there 
was a great dearth of trained engineer officers and 
experienced petty officers, and this was shown in 
frequent engine-room breakdowns. So many sub- 
marines had failed to return home, and others reported 
such hairbreadth escapes, that the inferior crews 
became nervous and were not sorry to be taken 
prisoners. The fact was that not only were expert, 
highly skilled officers hard to find, but the hands he 
was compelled to go to sea with were no longer 
chosen by the captain ; he had to accept whatever 
recruits were drafted to his craft. Of the best 
personnel that remained many had lost their nerve 
and had a very real dread of mines, depth charges, 
and decoy ships. The institution of our convoy 
system and of Q- ships as part of the convoy did not 
add to the pleasures of the U-boat officers. It is true 
that the often excellent shooting of the submarines 
was due to the fact that their gun-layers were generally 
selected from the High Sea Fleet, but as against this 
many of our Q-ship expert gunners were out of the 
Grand Fleet. It is true that the cruiser submarines 


with their two 5-9-inch guns, plus torpedoes, were 
formidable foes even for the most heavily armed 
decoy, but as against this they took a long time to 
dive, and thus represented a better target. 

If we consider these facts in regard to the later 
tactics of the submarines in contest with our decoy 
ships, there is much that becomes clear. The ex- 
cellence of our intelligence system has been shown 
by various British and German writers since the war, 
and, as a rule, we were extraordinarily prepared for 
the new developments with which our Q-ships were 
likely to be faced. On the other hand, the enemy's 
supply of intelligence w^as bad, and if w^e put ourselves 
in the position of an inexperienced young U-boat 
captain we can easily see how difficult was his task 
toward the end of hostilities. He was sent out to 
sink ships, and yet practically every British ship was 
at least armed defensively, and there was nothing to 
indicate which of them might be a well-armed decoy, 
save for the fact that he had been informed by his 
superiors that trap-ships were seldom of a size greater 
than 4,000 tons. Sailing ships, fishing craft, and 
steamers might be ready to spring a surprise, so that 
it was not easy for the German to combine ruthless 
attack wdth reasonable caution : thus, in effect, the 
battle came down to a matter of personality. It was 
not merely a question of the man behind the gun, 
nor of the man behind the torpedo, but the man 
at the periscope of the submarine versus the man 
peeping at him from the spy-hole of the steamer. 
They were strange tactics, indeed, to be employed in 
naval war when we consider the simple, hearty 
methods of previous campaigns in history, but even 
as an impersonal study of two foes this perpetual 
battle of wits, of subtleties, and make-believe, must 


ever remain both interesting and instructive in spite 
of the terrible loss of life accompanying it. Life on 
board one of the small steam Q-ships was, apart from 
its dangers arising through mines and submarines, 
distinctly lacking in comfort. The following extracts 
from the private diary of a Q-ship's commanding 
officer at different dates afford, in the fewest words, 
an insight into the life on board : 

' The heavy westerly gale was banking up the west- 
going tide, and made the most fierce and dangerous 
sea that I have ever seen. The ship made little head- 
way and was tossed about like a small boat. Fortu- 
nately we managed to keep end on to the sea, or I 
think the old tub would have gone slick over. As it 
was she behaved well, though her movements were 
pretty violent. Seas broke over the stern and washed 
away the stern gratings, one big sea broke right over 
the forward deck, a tumbling mass of foam, into the 
water on the other side of the ship, carrying away a 
ventilator and some steam-pipes. I had one spasm of 
anxiety, when in the middle of all this the wheel 
jammed for a few seconds, and I feared she would 
broach-to. If we had done so, I think the ship would 
at once have been rolled over and smothered. I have 
never before seen such enormous breakers. . . .' 

' Had just finished tea and was sitting at the table 
yarning with the others when the alarm gong went 
and we all dashed out. . . . Immediately before the 

gong went, M , our young R.N.V.R. signalman, 

who had never been to sea before, and who was on 

watch, remarked to W , the officer of the watch, 

" What's that funny-looking stick sticking out of the 

water over there ?" W cast an eye at the said 

" funny-looking stick sticking out of the water " 200 
yards on our starboard beam, and remarked profanely : 


" Good God, man, why, it's a periscope !" and promptly 
rang the gong.' It was, indeed, a periscope, and 
presently the submarine opened fire and sent a shell 
through the ship's engine-room, which disabled the 
ship, though she was afterwards towed into port, 
where she was repaired and refitted for her next 

' Completed loading timber at 11 a.m. Total 599 
tons. That ought to keep us afloat if we are tor- 
pedoed. . . . The ship's behaviour is quite different 
to what it was with coal ballast. She moves, but 
with a much easier motion, and without that terrible 

jerkiness she had before. . . . When off the we 

fell in with a lifeboat under sail, evidently with 
survivors from a sunk ship. Stopped and took them 
on board. They turned out to be the captain, 2nd 
officer, purser, 3rd engineer, and ten men, part of the 

crew of the S.S. , which had been torpedoed at 

11.30 a.m. yesterday. . . . Discussing the daily lie 

for Fritz with S : To-day we are from Cape 

Coast Castle with kernels, bound for London. I 
wonder if it will go down with Fritz. . . .' 

And the following entry after successfully sinking 
a German submarine notwithstanding many months 
of monotonous uneventfulness : 

' I then " spliced the main-brace." We passed the 

S Light at 11.30 p.m., and just before picking 

up the Examination boat received a wireless message 
from [the Commander-in-Chief], which reads : " Very 
well done. A year's perseverance well rewarded." . . . 
We anchored at midnight, and a boat at once came 
off with a doctor, who removed the wounded. ... A 
tug brought off the armed guard sent ... to re- 
ceive our prisoners. . . . We formally mustered the 
prisoners and handed them over, with the signing of 


receipts for their custody and disposal, etc. It was 
an impressive moment when 1 led the officer in 
charge to the saloon, and handed over to him the 
commanding officer of the submarine. A couple of 
bluejackets with rifles fixed promptly closed up at 
either elbow, and he was marched out. He had the 
grace to pause at the door, where I was standing, and 
to thank me for my treatment of him. He was no 
doubt very much upset by the loss of his ship : we 
found him extremely glum and did our best to cheer 
him up. He had lunch with us, and I think he 
really did find that we were human. Similarly the 
other officers tendered their thanks (they all went 
away in a good deal of our clothing), and when it 

came to the marching off of the men, stepped 

out of the ranks and tendered to me their grateful 
thanks for the excellent treatment they had received 
at our hands.' 




One of the effects of the British blockade on Germany 
was to prevent such valuable war material as iron 
reaching Germany from Spain. Now Spanish ores, 
being of great purity, were in pre-war days imported 
in large quantities for the manufacture of the best 
qualities of steel, and it was a serious matter for Ger- 
many that these importations were cut off. But 
luckily for her she had been accustomed to obtain, 
even prior to the war, supplies of magnetic ore from 
Sweden, and it was of the utmost importance that 
this should be continued now that the war would last 
much longer than she had ever expected. 

If you look at a map of Scandinavia inside the 
Arctic Circle you will notice the West Fjord, which 
is between the Lofoten Isles and the Norwegian 
mainland. Follow this up and you come to the 
Ofoten Fjord, at the head of which is the Norwegian 
port of Narvik. From here there ran across the 
Swedish border to liulea what was the most northerly 
railway in Europe, and Narvik was a great harbour 
for the export of magnetic iron ore. Hither German 
ships came, loaded, and then, by keeping within the 
three-mile limit of territorial waters, going inside 
islands, and taking every possible advantage of night, 
managed to get their valuable cargoes back home 
for the Teutonic munition makers. 

Now it was obviously one of the duties of our 



Tenth Cruiser Squadron, entrusted with the intercep- 
tion of shipping in the north, to see that Germany 
did not receive this ore. But having regard to the 
deUcacy of not violating the v^aters of a neutral 
nation, and bearing in mind the pilotage difficulties 
off a coast studded with islands and half- tide rocks, 
this was no easy matter. It was here that the small 
ships came in so useful. We can go back to June, 
1915, and find the armed trawler Tenby Castle (Lieu- 
tenant J. T. Randell, R.N.R.) attached nominally to 
the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, but sent to work single- 
handed, as it were, off the Norwegian coast intercepting 
shipping. As a distinguished admiral remarked, here 
she lay in a very gallant manner for twenty days, 
during which time she sank one enemy ship, very 
nearly secured a second, and was able to hand over to 
the Tenth Cruiser Squadron a neutral ship with iron 
ore. It was a most difficult situation to handle, for it 
required not merely a quick decision and bold initia- 
tive, but very accurate cross bearings had to be made, 
as these offisnding steamers were on the border-line of 
territorial waters. That great enemy of all seamen 
irrespective of nationality, fog, was in this case actually 
to be a very real friend to our trawler ; for in thick 
weather and the vicinity of a rock-bound coast full of 
hidden dangers, skippers of the ore ships would natur- 
ally be inclined to play for safety and stand so far out 
from the shore as to be in non-territorial waters. A 
further consideration was that owing to the effisct of 
the magnetic ore on their compasses they could not 
affiard to take undue navigational risks in thick 
weather. What they preferred was nice clear weather, 
so that they could hug the land. 

The success of Tenhy Castle was such that half a 


dozen other trawlers were selected and stationed off 
that coast except in the wild wintry months, and this 
idea, as we shall presently see, was developed still 
further, but it will assist our interest if we appreciate 
first the difficulties as exemplified in the case of the 
Tenhy Castle. On the last day of June, 1915, this 
trawler was about five miles N.E. of the Kya Islet, 
and it was not quite midday, when she sighted a 
steamer coming down from Nero Sound ; so she 
closed her and read her name, Pallas. Inasmuch as 
the latter was showing no colours, Tenby Castle now 
hoisted the White Ensign and the international signal 
to stop immediately. This was ignored, so the 
trawler came round and saw she was a German ship 
belonging to Flensburg, and fired a shot across the 
enemy's bow. The German then stopped her engines, 
ported her helm, and headed in the direction of the 
coast, having a certain amount of way on. The 
trawler closed and ordered her to show her colours, 
but the German declined ; so the latter was then told 
to steer to the westward, which he also refused to do. 
Lieutenant Randell, informing him now that he would 
give him five minutes in which to make up his mind 
either to come with him or be sunk, sent a wireless 
signal informing H.M. ships of the Tenth Cruiser 
Squadron, then went alongside the German and put an 
armed guard aboard ; but the captain of Pallas rang 
down for full speed ahead and starboarded his helm, 
whereupon Tenby Castle fired a couple of shots at the 
steamer's steering gear on the poop, damaging it. The 
German stopped his engines once more, but the ship 
was gradually drawing towards the shore, so that 
when f^ictorian arrived Pallas was about two and a 
half miles from the land, thus being just within 



territorial waters, and had to be released. There had 
been no casualties. 

The next incident occurred a week later. At ten 
minutes to six on the morning of July 7 Tenby Castle 
was lying off the western entrance of the West Fjord, 
the weather being thick and rainy, when a large 
steamer was seen to the N.N. W., so Tenby Castle put 
on full speed and ordered her to stop. This was the 
Swedish S.S. Malmland, with about 7,000 tons of 
magnetic ore. After being ordered to follow the 
trawler, 31almland put on full speed and drew ahead ; 
so she was made to keep right astern at reduced 
speed, and just before half-past eight that morning 
was handed over to H.M.S. India of the above- 
mentioned cruiser squadron. The day passed, and it 
was a few minutes after midnight when this trawler, 
again lying off the West Fjord, sighted a steamer 
coming down from Narvik. A shot was fired across 
the steamer's bows, and on rounding-to under the 
steamship's stern it was observed that she was the 
German S.S. Frederick A?y, of Hamburg. She was 
ordered to stop, then the trawler closed and ordered 
the steamer to follow. The German refused to obey 
and steamed towards the land, so the Tenby Castle was 
compelled to fire a shot into his quarter, and this 
caused him to stop. After he had several times refused 
to follow. Lieutenant Randell gave him five minutes 
and informed him he would either have to accompany 
the trawler or else be sunk. The five minutes passed, 
the obstinate German still declined, and two minutes 
later put his engines ahead and made towards the 
shore. It was now an hour since the ship had first 
been sighted, so there was nothing for it but for the 
trawler to sink her, and she was shelled at the water- 
line and sunk four and a half miles away from the 


nearest land, her crew of thirteen being handed over 
a few hours later to H.M.S. India. Thus a cargo of 
4,000 tons of magnetic ore was prevented from 
reaching Germany. 

Now, it was quite obvious that the information of 
these incidents would not be long in reaching Germany 
from an agent via Norway. The German Captain 
Gayer has stated since the war that news reached 
Germany that ' an English auxiliary cruiser was 
permanently stationed ' off West Fjord, whose task, he 
says, was 'to seize and sink the German steamers 
coming with minerals from Narvik.' Therefore, on 
August 3, Germany despatched U 22 from Borkum 
to West Fjord, and this craft had scarcely taken up her 
position when she saw the armed merchant cruiser 
India enter West Fjord and torpedoed her at long 
range, so that India was sunk. Gayer, who occupied 
during the war a high administrative position in the 
U-boat service, adds the following statement : ' It 
was,' he remarks, ' one of the few instances in which 
a submarine found with such precision the object of 
attack really intended for it, when the information 
had been given by an agent.' 

We pass over the intervening years and come to 
February, 1918. On the nineteenth of that month 
the Q-ship Tay and Tyne had left Lerwick, in the 
Shetlands, to perform similar work off the Norwegian 
coast, where she arrived on the twenty- second. This 
was a little 557-ton steamer, which had been requisi- 
tioned at the end of the previous July and fitted out 
at liOwestoft with a 4-inch gun aft, suitably hidden, 
and a couple of 12-pounders. She was a single-screw 
ship, built at Dundee in 1909, having a funnel, two 
masts, and the usual derricks. In addition to her 
guns she carried one torpedo tube and also smoke- 


making apparatus. She was commanded by Lieu- 
tenant Mack, R.N., with whom Lieutenant G. H. P. 
Muhlhauser, R.N.R., went as second in command, 
both of these officers, as the reader will remember, 
having served together in the Q- sailing-ship Result. 
Having commissioned the new ship. Lieutenant Mack 
then took her from Lowestoft to the secluded area of 
the Wash in order to practise gunnery and the 
' panic ' party arrangements. Months passed, but on 
February 22 something of interest happened, for some 
distance below the Vigten Islands a couple of 
steamers were sighted, so course was then altered 
to cut off the one that was bound to the southward. 
When 1,000 yards away the latter hoisted German 
colours, so Tay and Tyne (alias Cheriton and 
Dundreary) hoisted the international signal 'M.N.' 
to stop immediately. This ship was the Dusseldorf^ 
a nine-year-old, typical German flush- decked tramp 
of 1,200 tons, with 1,700 tons of magnetic ore on 
board. As she disregarded the signal, a shell was 
fired across her bows, and this caused her to stop and 
hoist the answering pennant. Lieutenant Mack then 
steamed round the stern, keeping her covered all the 
time with his gun, and now took up station inshore 
of the German. 

Dusseldorf had been completely taken by surprise, 
and never supposed that this little steamer could 
possibly be a trap-ship. Tay and Tyne lowered a 
boat containing several of the British crew, under 
Lieutenant Muhlhauser, armed with revolvers and 
rifles, and this guard then boarded the enemy, on 
board whom were found a couple of Norwegian 
Customs House officials and two Norse pilots. Lieu- 
tenant Muhlhauser then ordered the German captain 
to muster his crew, which he promptly did, and now 


the terrified crew were given five minutes to collect 
their clothes. The captain handed over the ship's 
papers and protested that the ship was in territorial 
waters. Eleven Germans and the four Norwegians 
were then transferred to the Q-ship, who landed the 
four Norwegians in the Dusseldorfs boat at Sves 
Fjord, and this boat they were allowed to keep. The 
British boarding party had consisted of a dozen men, 
but Lieutenant Sluhlhauser sent three back to the 
Q-ship, and retained three German stokers and the 
two German engineers in order to get the prize back 
to England, these five men working under the super- 
vision of one of the Tay and Tyne's crew. 

Having received orders to proceed, Lieutenant 
Muhlhauser then began to take the Dusseldorf across 
the North Sea. I am indebted to him for having 
allowed me to see his private diary of this voyage, and 
I think it well illustrates the unexpected and sur- 
prising difficulties with which Q-ship officers so 
frequently found themselves confronted. Having 
parted company with the J'ay and Tyne, Dusseldorfs 
new captain proceeded to look for navigational 
facilities, but in this respect she was amazingly ill- 
found. The only chart available showed just a small 
portion of the North Sea, and there was no sextant 
in the ship. This was a delightful predicament, for 
with all her magnetic ore it could be taken for certain 
that the compass would have serious deviation, and, 
having regard to the number of minefields in the 
North Sea and the physical dangers of the east coast 
of Scotland, it was a gloomy prelude to crossing from 
one side to the other. 

Having been round the ship, it was now possible 
to ascertain her character. She was not a thing of 
beauty, there was no electric light, the engine-room 


was in a neglected condition, and round it were the 
engineers' cabins, the skipper and mate being berthed 
in a deckhouse under the bridge. However, as the 
prize dipped to the North Sea swell it was a joy to 
realize that all the hundreds of tons of ore would not 
reach Germany. At this late stage of the war she 
was very short of this commodity, and the loss to her 
would be felt. The Tay and Tyne had certainly 
made a most useful capture. Fortunately there was 
found plenty of food in Dusseldorf, and enough coal 
for about three weeks, so if only a few days' fine, clear 
weather could be ensured, the ship would soon be 
across and anchored in a British harbour. That, of 
course, was always supposing there was no encounter- 
ing of mines or torpedoes. 

By dusk of the first day the Halten Lighthouse 
(Lat. 64.10 N., Long. 9.25 E.) was made out, and then 
the night set in. For some time the glass had been 
falling, and before the morning it was blowing a gale 
of wind with a heavy sea. Loaded with such a cargo 
Dusseldo7]f made very heavy weather, and was like a 
half- tide rock most of the time, and during the next 
day made only 30 miles in twenty-four hours ! 
Strictly speaking, this is not the North Sea but the 
Atlantic Ocean, and February is as bad a month as 
you could choose to be off this Norwegian coast in a 
ship that could make good only a mile an hour. By 
the afternoon of the twenty-fourth the Romsdal 
Islands had been sighted, and then, fearing lest the 
enemy might have received news of the capture and 
sent out some of his light forces, the ship was kept 
well out from the shore. The Germans should never 
get this ore, and arrangements were made to sink her 
rather than give her up. 

With no chart, a doubtful compass, and so few 


appliances, was there ever an Atlantic voyage made 
under more casual circumstances ? Bearings were 
taken of the Pole Star and Sirius in order to get a 
check on the compass, and the ship proceeded roughly 
on a W.S.\V. course. During the twenty-fifth and 
twenty-sixth it blew a westerly gale, and the seas 
crashed over her without mercy. Owing to the cargo 
being heavy and stowed low, the Dusseldorf dh^Vdyed 
a quick, lively roll, and already had broken down 
twice, when for a third time on the evening of the 
twenty-sixth she again stopped. She was now four 
days out, and the captain was a little anxious as to his 
position, but it was impossible to ascertain it. A cast 
of the lead was taken and bottom was found at thirty 
fathoms. From this it was assumed that they were 
now somewhere near the Outer Skerries (East of the 
Shetlands) ; and inasmuch as it was believed there 
was a German minefield, laid this year, not far away, 
anxiety was in nowise lessened. As soon as the 
repairs had been effected, course was altered to south- 
east for 16 miles, then south for the same distance, 
and north-west in the hope of making the land. This 
was done, but no land appeared, and it was blowing 
a gale from the north-west. Whether the ship was 
now in the North Sea or whether she had overshot 
the Shetlands and got the other side of Scotland, 
who could say ? Neither the error of the compass 
nor the error of the log could be known. It was now 
the twenty-seventh, and they might be north, south, 
east, or west of the Shetlands, but, on the whole, 
Lieutenant IMuhlhauser believed he was in the North 
Sea, so decided to run south until well clear of the 
Moray Firth minefields, and then south-west until 
the land was picked up. 

The twenty-eighth of February passed without land 


being sighted, and there was always the horrible 
possibility that suddenly the ship might strike the 
shore in the darkness. It was a long-drawn-out 
period of suspense, aggravated by bad weather and 
the presence of mines and submarines. But as spring 
follows winter and dawn comes after night, so at 
length there came relief At six in the morning of 
the first of March a light was picked up on the star- 
board bow, which, on consulting a nautical almanack, 
was identified as the Bell Rock (east of the Tay). 
Continuing further south, two trawlers and an armed 
yacht were sighted off JMay Island, so a signal was 
sent through the yacht to Admiral Startin at Granton 
reporting the arrival of a prize captured by Tay and 
Tyne, and, in due course, having steamed up the 
Firth of Forth, Dusseldorf at last came to anchor and 
reported herself. It had been a plucky voyage made 
under the worst conditions, and many an officer has 
been decorated for an achievement less than this. 

As for Tay and Tyne, she, too, had passed through 
a trying period. After landing the Norwegian pilots 
and Customs House officials in Sves Fjord she had 
steamed out to sea and made bad weather of the gale, 
water even pouring into the engine-room ; but she 
had been saved from foundering by taking shelter in 
a Norwegian fjord, and next day cruised about the 
coast looking for more ore ships, but had no further 
luck, so on February 25 shaped a course for Lerwick, 
where she duly arrived, and the German prisoners 
were taken out of the fo'c'sle and handed over to the 
naval authorities. 

In the following month Tay and Tyne, accom- 
panied by another Q-ship named the Glendale, was 
again off the Norwegian coast on the look-out for ore 
ships, just as in Elizabethan days our ancestral seamen 


were in a western sea looking out for the Spanish 
ships with their rich cargoes. Glendale (ahas Speed- 
well II. and Q 23) was a disguised trawler of 273 tons 
belonging to Granton, and armed with a couple of 
12-pounders, a 6-pounder, and two torpedoes. On 
the twenty-first of March, Glendale was oif the Oxnaes 
Lighthouse when she captured the German S.S. 
Valeria with 2,200 tons of ore. In vile weather 
these three ships then started to cross to Lerwick, 
but, after they had got part of the way across, 
Valeiia's small supply of .coal gave out, so on the 
twenty-third she had to be abandoned and then sunk 
by the shelling from the two Q-ships, the crew having 
been previously taken off by boats, while both Q-ships 
poured oil on to the sea. Although Valeria never 
reached a British port this was most useful work ; for 
not only was the ore prevented from reaching Ger- 
many, but they were deprived of a brand-new 1,000- 
ton ship. Her captain, who, together with the rest of 
the crew, was brought into Lerwick, had only just left 
the German Navy, and this was his first trip. In- 
cidents such as these show what excellent service can 
be rendered in naval warfare irrespective of the size of 
ships and of adverse circumstances, provided only that 
the officers have zeal and determination. The risks 
run by these two small ships were very great when we 
consider the manner in which our Scandinavian con- 
voys had been cut up in spite of destroyer protection. 
Conversely, seeing how necessary for the prosecution 
of the war these supplies of ore were to Germany, is 
it not a little surprising that she did not station a 
submarine off the Norwegian coast to act as escort, 
submerged, and then torpedo the Tay and Tyne as 
soon as she began to close the ore ship ? One of her 
smaller submarines could surely have been spared for 


such an undertaking, and it would have been, from 
their point of view, more than worth while. 

Finally, we have to relate the fight of another small 
coasting steamer transformed into a Q-ship. This 
was the Stockforce (alias Chary ce), which had been 
requisitioned at Cardiff at the beginning of 1918, and 
then armed with a couple of 4-inch guns, a 12-pounder, 
and a 3-pounder. Her captain was Lieutenant Harold 
Auten, D.S.C., R.N.R., who had had a great deal of 
experience in Q-ships under Admiral Bayly, and had 
recently commanded the Q-ship Heatlier. On the 
thirtieth of July, 1918, Stockforce was about 25 miles 
south-west of the Start, steaming along a westerly 
course at 7\ knots, the time being just before five in 
the afternoon, when the track of a torpedo was seen 
on the starboard beam coming straight on for the 
ship. The crew were sent to their stations, the helm 
was put hard aport and engines full speed astern, in 
the hope of avoiding the torpedo ; but it was too late. 
The ship was struck on the starboard side abreast of 
No. 1. hatch, putting the forward gun out of action, 
entirely wrecking the fore part of the ship, including 
the bridge, and w^ounding three ratings and an officer. 

As soon as the torpedo had exploded there came a 
tremendous shower of timber, which had been packed 
in the hold for flotation purposes, and besides these 
12-pounder shells, hatches, and other debris came 
falling on to the bridge and fore part of the ship, 
wounding the first lieutenant, the navigating officer, 
two ratings, and adding to the injuries of the forward 
gun. All this had happened as the result of one 
torpedo. The enemy, perhaps, being homeward 
bound with a spare torpedo in his tube, had not 
hesitated to use such a weapon on a small coaster 
instead of employing his guns. Stockforce had been 



fairly caught and was settling down by the head. 
The ' abandon ship ' party then cleared away their 
boat and went through their usual make-believe, 
whilst the ship's surgeon had the wounded taken down 
to the 'tween deck, where their injuries could be 
attended to. Here it was none too safe, for the bulk- 
heads had been weakened by the explosion so that 
the water flowed aft, Hooding the magazine and 
'tween decks to a depth of three feet, and thereby 
rendering the work of the surgeon not merely difficult 
but hazardous. 

Whilst the ' panic ' party were rowing ahead of the 
ship, the rest lay at their stations on board, behaving 
with the greatest equanimity and coolness, while 
Lieutenant Auten, as the fore-control and bridge were 
out of action, exercised his command from the after 
gunhouse. Five minutes later the submarine rose to 
the surface half a mile distant, and, being very shy, 
remained there for a quarter of an hour carefully 
watching Stockforce for any suspicious move. In 
accordance with the training, the ' panic ' party then 
began to row down the port side towards the port 
quarter so as to draw the enemy on, and this manoeuvre 
succeeded in fooling the German, who now came 
down the port side as required, being only about three 
hundred yards away. As soon as the enemy was full 
on the beam of Stockforce, the latter handed him the 
surprise packet. It was now 5.40 p.m. as both 4-inch 
guns opened fire from the Q-sliip. The first round 
from the after gun passed over the conning- tower, 
carrying away the wireless and one of the periscopes, 
the second shell hitting the conning-tower in the 
centre and blowing it away, sending high into the air 
a man who was in the conning-tower. 

Stockforce s second 4 -inch gun mth her first shot 


hit the enemy on the water-Hne at the base where the 
conning-tower had been, tearing the submarine right 
open and blowing out many of the crew. A large 
volume of blue smoke began to pour out of the 
U-boat, and shell after shell was then poured into the 
German until she sank by the stern, by which time 
twenty direct hits had been obtained. The enemy 
submerged, leaving a quantity of debris on the water, 
and was never seen again. But in the meantime 
Stockforce was in a critical condition, and every 
attempt now was made to save her from foundering. 
Having recalled the ' panic ' party, the engines were 
put full speed ahead in the effort to reach the nearest 
land and beach her, as she was rapidly listing to star- 
board and going down by the head. At 6.30 p.m. 
two trawlers were sighted who closed the ship, and as 
Stockforce was already practically awash forward and 
along most of the starboard side, all the wounded and 
half the men were now transferred to one of these 

With a volunteer crew the Q-ship then went ahead 
again, but the engine-room was leaking badly, and in 
the stokehold there were several feet of water, and it 
was clear that the life of Stockforce was a matter of a 
very short while, for the water in both engine-room 
and stokehold began now to rise rapidly and the ship 
was about to sink. But two British torpedo-boats 
had now arrived, and at 5.15 p.m., when off Bolt 
Tail, with Plymouth Sound only a few miles off, the 
Stockforce's captain had to send the rest of the ship's 
company from the sinking ship, while he remained on 
board with only the first lieutenant. Five minutes 
later a dinghy from one of the torpedo-boats fetched 
them also, and after only another five minutes Stock- 
force sank. It had been a plucky fight and a fine 


endeavour to save the ship, but this was not to be 
successful. Handsome awards were made in respect 
of these efforts, the coveted Victoria Cross being 
conferred on Lieutenant Auten, whilst the Distin- 
guished Service Cross was bestowed on Lieutenant 
H. F. Rainey, R.N.R., Lieutenant L. E. Workman, 
R.N.R., Lieutenant W. J. Grey, R.N.R., Sub- 
Lieutenant G. S. Anakin, R.N.R., Assistant- Pay- 
master A. D. Davis, R.N.R., and Surgeon-Probationer 
G. E. Strahan, R.N.V.R. 

This last fight represents Q-ship warfare at its 
highest point of development. We have here the 
experienced officers of each nation, knowing all the 
tricks of their highly specialized profession, fighting 
each other in the most cunningly devised craft. 
Each of these vessels represented all that could be 
done by a combination of intellect and engineering 
skill, so that when the two should meet in the sea 
arena the fight could not fail to be interesting. After 
the preliminary moves had been made how would 
matters stand ? The answer is that in the final appeal 
it was largely a matter of luck. Now, in the duel 
we have just witnessed the first round of the match 
was undoubtedly won by the submarine, whose 
torpedo got home and wrought such damage that the 
ship was doomed from the first. Round number two, 
when the ' panic ' party succeeded in luring the enemy 
on to the requisite range and bearing, was distinctly 
in favour of Stockforce. So also was round three, in 
which she managed to shell him so thoroughly. But 
here the element of luck enters and characterizes the 
rest of the day. To all intents and purposes the sub- 
marine was destroyed and sunk ; whereas, in point 
of fact, notwithstanding her grievous wounds, she 
managed to get back home. It was touch-and-go 


with her, as it had been with von Spiegel's submarine 
after being shelled by the Prize, but good fortune 
just weighed the scales and prevented a loss. On 
the other hand, Stoclxforce might have had the luck 
just to keep afloat a few more miles and get into 
Plymouth Sound, but as it was she sank a little too 
soon, and thus the actual result of the encounter 
might by some be called indecisive, or even in 
favour of the enemy. This is not so. To us the loss 
of a small coaster turned temporarily into a man-of- 
war was of little consequence. A similar ship, the 
Suffolk Coast, would soon be picked up and then 
turned over to the dockyard experts to be fitted out ; 
, but in the case of a submarine there were only limited 
numbers. That particular U-boat would now have a 
long list of defects and be a non-combatant for a long 
time, and her crew would morally be seriously affected 
by their miraculous escape, and they would not forget 
to pass on their impressions to their opposite numbers 
in other submarines. 

It was rather the cumulative effect of Q-ships, 
destroyers, mines, auxiliary patrol craft, depth charges, 
hydrophones, convoys, and good staff work which 
broke the spirit of the German submarine menace, so 
that if the war had continued much longer U-boats 
would have been thwarted except within certain 
limits of the North Sea. Every weapon has its rise 
and fall in the sphere of usefulness ; the shell is 
repelled by armour-plate, the Zeppelin is destroyed 
by the aircraft, and so on. So it was with the Q-ship. 
It came into being at a time when no other method 
seemed likely to deal with submarines adequately. It 
became successful, it rose into popularity to its logical 
peak, and then began to wane in usefulness as the sub- 
marine re-adapted herself to these new conditions. 


Afterwards came the period when the mine barrages in 
the HeHgoland Bight, in the Dover Strait, and across 
the northern end of the North Sea, and the hydro- 
phones, in swiftly moving hght craft, made the hfe of 
any submarine precarious in his going and coming. 
The hydrophone has made such wonderful develop- 
ments since the war that in the future within the 
narrow seas a submarine would find life a little too 
thrilling to be pleasant. 

But for a long period the Q-ship did wonders, and 
to the officers and men of this service for their bravery 
and endurance we owe much. They were taking 
enormous risks, and they turned these risks into 
successes of great magnitude as long as ever the game 
was possible. Most, though not all, of the ships and 
officers and men came from the Mercantile Marine, 
and in this special force we see the perfect co-opera- 
tion between the two branches of our national sea 
service for the good of the Empire. The Royal Navy 
could teach them all that was to be known about the 
technicalities of fighting, could provide them with 
guns and expert gunners, could give them all the 
facilities of His Majesty's dockyards, whilst at the 
same time the Mercantile Marine provided the ships 
and the pei^sonnel who knew what were the normal 
habits and appearances of a tramp, a collier, or a 
coaster. Originally known as special service ships, 
as decoys, then as Q-ships, these vessels during 1917 
and 1918 were known as H.M.S. So-and-So, but it 
was under the designation of Q-ships that they 
reached their pinnacle of fame, and as such they will 
always be known, so it has been thought well thus to 
describe them in these pages. But whether we think 
of them as mystery ships or as properly commissioned 
vessels of His Majesty's Navy, there will ever remain 


for them a niche in our great sea story, and the valour 
of all ranks and ratings in all kinds of these odd craft, 
amid every possible condition of difficulty and danger, 
should be to those who come after an immortal lesson 
and a standard of duty to the rising race of British 
seamanhood. Otherwise these men toiled and endured 
and died in vain. 



The names of Q-stiips are in heavy-faced type. 

Acton, 161 

Alcala. See Q 19 

Alexander, C. J., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

Alijssum, H.iM.S., 120, 122-3 
Amiral Ganteaume, 7 
Anakin, G. S., Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

Andalusiati, 9 
Aniylo-Oolunibian, 26 
Antwerp (formerly Vienna), 8, 9, 24, 

Arabic, 20, 32, 132 

Armstrong, M., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 67 
Arvonian {Santee, Bendish), 231-4 
Athos. See Glen 
Attach, H. M.S., 211 
Attentive, H.M.S., 7 
Aubrietia. See Q 13 
Aud, 140 
Auten, Harold, Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

164, 266-9 


Baralong ( Wijandra), 20-3, 25, 26-31, 41, 

104, 109 
Baron Ardrossan, 34 
Baron Napier, 33-5 
Baron Rose, 190 
Barranca. See Q 3 
Bartel, Leutnant Karl, 116 
Bayard, 77 
Bayly, Admiral Sir Lewis, 46, 104, 198, 

203, 215, 233, 246, 247, 266 
Bayonne, 123 
Beaton, W. D., Lieutenant, R.N.R. 

Begonia, 139, 163 
Bendish. See Arvonian 
Berlin, 161 
Bernays, Leopold A., Commander 

R.N., 161-3 
Beryl, H.M.Y.,im 
Beswick, W., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 41, 

Betsy Jameson, 77 
Bidart, 247 
Blackwood, M. B. R., Commander, 

R.N.,242, 245 
Blair, A. D., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 61 
Blessing, 57 

Bluebell, H.M.S., 179,233 
Boggs, L. S. , Lieut. - Commander. 

Bolham. See Sarah Colehrooh 
Bombala ( Willow Branch), 235-6 


Bonner, C. G., Lieutenant, R.N.R. , 

205, 207, 212 
Bracondale. See Chagford 
Bradford City (Saros), 31, lOl 
Bremen, 139 

Brewer, Skipper, R.N.R., 145, 149 
Brig 10. See Q 17 
Brig 11. See Q 22 
Brown Mouse, 77, 78 
Buttercup, II. M.S., 197 

Camelia, H. M.S., 160 

Campbell, Captain Gordon, R.N., 24, 

39-46, 109, 161, 192-208, 246 
Canadian, 120 
Candytuft, 174-6 
Capelle, Admiral von, 134 
Carrigan Head, 48-9 
Casement, Sir R. , 140 
CedricH.M.S., 110 
Century. See Penhallow 
Chagford [Bracondale), 228-31 
Chancellor, 26 
Charles, F. W., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

Charyce. See Stochforce 
Cheero, 55-6 

Chariton. See Tai/ and Ti/ne 
Christopher, H.M.S., 167, i71, 174, 211 
Cochrane, W. O'G. , Captain, R.N., 

Colville, Admiral Sir Stanley, 13, 214 
Commissioner, 238 
Crocus, B.3I.S.,203 
Crompton, Ober-Leutnant, 28, 30 
CuUist ( Westphalia, Jwrassic, Hayling, 

Prim), 164, 166-8 
Cummings, U.S.S., 233 
Cushing, U.S.S., 200, 203 
Cymric, 189-90 

Daffodil, H.3I.S., 165 

Dag. See Result 

Dane, Commander, R.N. , 234 

Dargle, 77, 177, 190 

Davis, A. D., Assistant-Paymaster, 

R.N.R., 269 
Deutschland, 139, 234 
Donlevon {B one), 159, 160 
Doubleday, G. H. D., Sub-Lieutenant, 

R.N.R., 167 
Douglas, S. C, Commander, R.N. , 234 
Dowie, J. M., Temporary Engineer, 

R.N.R., 30 
Drayton, U.S.S., 165 
Dreadnought, H.M.S., 9 

3 18 


Duff, Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander, 227 

Dunclutha, 235 

Buncombe, 17 

Dundreary. See Tay and Tyne 

Dunois, 107-8 

Dunraven, 203-12 

Dusseldorf, 260-4 

E 13, H.M. Submarine, 23 

Echunga. See Q 3 

Editii E. Cummins. See Fresh Hope 

Eigler, Ingenieur-Aspirant, 116 

Elixir. See Q 30 

Elizabeth, 189 

Else. See Q 21 

Errington, Lieutenant, R.N.E., 175-6 

Eudora, 193 

Falaba, 31 

Fame. See Revenqe 

First Prize. See Q 21 

Flying Sportsman, H.M. Tug, 198 

Flying Spray, H.M. Tug, 160 

Fort George, 239 

Foss, 211 

Frank, F. A., Lieut. - Commander, 
R.N.E., 105-6, 164 

Frederick Arp, 258 

Fresh Hope [Edith E. Cummins, Iro- 
quois), 189-90 

Friswell. See Pargust 

G and E, 20 

G.L.M. See George L. Muir 

G. L. Munro. See George L. Muir 

Gaelic. See Q 22 

Gayer, Captain, 259 

George L. Muir (G. L. Munro, G.L.M., 

Padre), 177 
Glen [Sidney, Athos), 77-9, 180-4 
Glendale. See Q 23 
Glenfoyle. See Stonecrop 
Glen Isla, 17 
Glitra, 7 
Gobo. See Q 22 
Grenfell, F. H., Captain, R.N., 109-17, 

124, 160, 214-6 
Grey, W. J., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 269 
Gunner, 11, 237 
Guy, B. J. D. , Lieut. -Commander, 

R.N., 35-6, 236 

HadziaTca, 173 

Halcyon, H.M.S., 90 

Hallwright, W. W., Lieut. -Commander, 

Hannaford, Skipper R. W.. E.N.R., 64 
Hannah, Lieutenant, R.N.V.R., 150 
Hanrahan, D. C. , Commander, U.S.N., 

Hansen, Lieut. -Commander, 26, 29 

Harlech Castle, H.M. Travjler, 18& 
Harvey, H. W., Lieutenant, R.N.V.R., 

Hayes, J., Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.R., 57 
Hayling. See Cullist 
Heather. See Q 16 
Helgoland. See Q 17 
Herbert, Godfrey, Commander, R.N., 

8, 48-9, 235 
Hereford, P. R., Lieutenant, 212 
Hermes, H.M.S., 7 
Hesione, 26 

Hick, Captain AUanson, 30-1 
Hobbyhawk. See Telesia 
Hodson, G. L., Lieut. -Commander, 

R.N., 33-4 
Horley. See Q 17 
Hudson, C. H., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

Hughes, E. L., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 57 
Hughes, T., Lieutenant, E.N.R., 74-5 
Hutchinson, E. , Lieutenant, R.N.R., 130 

Imogene, 189-90 

Ina Williams, H.M. Traioler, 46 

India, H.M. S., 258-9 

Intaba, 139 

Invercauld, 120 

Inverlyon, 20 


Mo, 193 

Iroquois. See Fresh Hope 

Irvine, G., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 178 

Island Queen. See Q 19 

Jeffrey, D. G., Lieutenant, R.N.R,, 

228-31, 234 
Jellicoe, Admiral Viscount, 10, 152, 157, 

Jiirassic. See Cullist 

Kaye, A.B., R.N.R., 40 

Kermes, 57 

Kerr, J., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 74 

Keyes, Adrian, Commander, R.N., 173 

Lalmrnum, H.M.S., 197 

Lady Olive. See Q 18 

Lady Patricia. See Paxton 

Laggan [Pladda), 104, 164 

Lammeroo. See Rememhrance 

Lawrence, Skipper, J. H., R.N.R., 240 

Lawrie, J., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 69-75 

Leonidas, H.M.S., 128 

Linsdell, 80 

Lisette, 78 

Lodorer. See Q 5 

Lodsen, 49 

Louise, 16 

Loveless, Engineer-Lieutenant, 43 

Luneda, H.M, I'rawler, 198 



Lusitania, 13, 31, 32, 132, 2-15 
Lyons, 9, 25 

McClure, Sab-Lieutenant, R.N.R., 33 
Mack, P. J., Lieutenant, R.N., 80, 86, 

McLeod. J. K., Lieut. -Commander, 

R.N., 164,225 
McLeod, W., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 141 
Malachite, 7 
Malndand, 258 
Manford. See Q 7 
Maracaio. See Q 28 
Marg^t, 32-5 
Marshfort, 234 
Marx, Admiral, 101, 160 
Mary B. MitcheU. See Q 9 
Mary Rose, H.M.S., 138 
Mathesou, C. G., Lieut. -Commander, 

R.N.R., 170-1 
Mavis. See Q 26 
Maxwell, F. N., 13 
Meade, Skipper, R.N.R., 146-7 
Melville, Lord, 66 
Merops. See Q 28 
Mitchell. See Q 9 
Moewe, 226, 235 
Morris, K., Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

79, 184 
Muhlhauser, G. H. P., Lieutenant, 

R.N.R.,80-2, 86, 260-4 
Myosotis, H.M.S., 160 

Naylor, Cedric, Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

124-5, 128, 130 
Nicosian, 22-3 
Niger, H. M.S., 7 
Noake, Basil S., Lieut. -Commander, 

R.N., 163 
Noma, U.S.S., 211 
Noodt, Ober-Leutnant Erich, 116 
Nunn, R. A., Assistant-Paymaster, 

RN.R., 212 
Nyroca. See Q 26 

Olphert, W. , Lieut. - Commander, 

K.N.R., 164 
Ooma, 235 
Oracle, H. M.S., 231 
Orestes, H. M.S., 171 

Padre. See Georqe L. Muir 
Paladin, H.M. Tug, 233 
Pallas, 257 

Pangloss. See Pargust 
Pargust ( Vittoria, Snail, Friswell, Pan- 
gloss), 161, 199-204, 231, 234 
Paxton (Lady Patricia), 104 
Penhallow (Century), 31 
Penshnrst. See Q 7 
Periere, Arnanld de la, 93 

Pet, 20 

Phillips, Lieutenant, R.N.R., 175 
Pitcher, E., Petty Officer, 212 
Pladda. See Laggan 
Powell, Commander Frank, 139 
Prevalent, 78 
Prim. See Cullist 
Primo, 7 

Prince Charles, 13-16 
Princess Ena, 24 
Privet. See Q 19 
Prize. See Q 21 
Probus. See Q .30 

Purdy, James, Engineer Sub-Lieuten- 
ant, R.N. R., 49 

Q 3 (Barranca, Echunga), 221, 234 

Q 5 (Lodorer, Farnhorough), 24, 40-7, 109, 

192-9, 227 
Q 7 (Penshurst, Manford), 17, 47, 109-30, 

161, 213-22 
Q 9 (Mary B. Mitchell, Mary Y. Jose, 

Jeannette, Brine, Neptun, Marie The- 

rese. Eider, Arius, Cancalais), 67-74 
Q 12 (Tulip), 138 

Q 13 (Auhrietia), 101, 139, 160, 237 
Q 15 (Salvia), 98-101, 139, 164 
Q 16 (Heather), 17, 139, 141, 164, 266 
Q 17 (Helgoland, Horley, Brig 10), 59-64, 

78, 190 
Q 18 (Lady Olive), 104 
Q 19 (Privet, Island Queen, Swisher, 

Alcala), 170-1 
Q 21 (Else, First Prize, Prize) 77, 144 
Q 22 (Gaelic, Goho, Brig 11), 65-6, 178-9, 

Q 23 (Glendale, Speedwell II.), 264-5 
Q 25, 104 

Q 26 (Mavis, Nyroca), 104, 172-4 
Q 28 (Merops, Maracaio), 77, 190 
Q 30 (Thirza, Beady, Probus, Elixir), 18, 

Quickly, 11 

Rainey, H. F., Lieutenant, R.N.R.,269 
Randell, J. T., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

Ravenstone. See Donlevon 
Ready. See Q 30 
Remembrance (Lammeroo), 31 
Rentoul, 189, 190 
Result (Dag), 77, 79, 81-6, 260 
Revenge (Fame), 56 
Rival II., H.M. Drifter, 150 
Rolfe, C. N., Lieut. -Commander, R.N., 

Rosskeen, 238 

Salvia. See Q 15 

Sanders, W. E. L., Lieut. -Commander, 
R.N.R.,60, 61, 114,157 


Santee. See Arvonian 

Sarah Colebrooke (Bolham), 77 

Sardinia, 70-1 

Saros. See Bradford City 

Saxon, H.M. Trawler, 230-1 

Scheer, Admiral von, 133 

Schwieper, Lient. -Commander, 244 

Scott, W. F., Lieutenant, K.N.E., 55 

Sidney. See Glen 

Simpson, S. H., Commander, R.N.,164, 
167, 168 

Sims, Admiral, 231-2 

Smart, R. C. C, Lieut. -Commander, 

Smith, J. S., Temporary Engineer Sub- 
Lieutenant, R.N.R., 41, 44 

Smith, Skipper W., R.N.R., 64 

Snail. See Pargust 

SoeraJcarta, 45 

Speedwell, 238 

Speedwell II. See Q 23 

Speed>j,H.M.S., 81 

Spence, G., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 167 

Spencer, J. G., Lieutenant, R.N.R. , 

Spiegel, Lieut. - Commander Freiherr 
von, 145-8 

Springwell, 35-6 

Starmount, 233 

Startin, Admiral, 10 

Stockforce (Charyce), 247, 266-70 

Stonecrop (Glenfoyh), 242-5 

Strahan, G. E., Surgeon-Probationer, 

Sfrathallan, H.M. Traiuler, 239 

Strathearn, H.M. Traioler, 239 

Strumbles, 57 

Stuart, R. N., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 203 

Suffolk Coast, 220, 247-9 

Sussex, 132 

Swisher. See Q 19 

Tamarisk, 139, 164, 246 

Tay and Tyne {Cheriton, Dundreary), 

259-62, 264-5 
Telesia {Hobby haioTc), 53-6 
Tenby Castle, 256-8 
Thalia, 57 
Thirza. See Q 30 
Thornhill. See Werribee 
Torrent, H.M.S., 91 
Tremayne, 175 
Tulip. See Q 12 
Turnbull, R. J., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

79, 180-1 
Tweedie, Lieutenant, R.N.R. , 33 

U 9, 6; U18,7; U 20, 245; U 21, 7; 

U 22, 259; U 23, 10; U 27, 22, 26; 

i/ 29, 9 ; U 34, 172 ; f/ 36, 16 ; U 40, 

10; U 41, 26, 28-31, 40; U 43, 145; 

f/ 44, 231; f/ 62, 138; t/68,42; ^783, 

194-6 ; U 84, 120 ; U 88, 242-4 ; U 93, 

UB 4, 20; UB 13, 54; UB 19, 116; 

UB 37, 119; UB 39, 180-1; UB 48, 

155-6 ; UB 63, 240 
UC 3, 56 ; UC 29, 202 ; UG 45, 81, 86 
Underwing, 234 
Urbino, 28, 30 

Vala, 16, 17, 47, 161-2 

Valeria, 265 

Vereker. See Viola 

Victorian, H.M.S., 257 

Vienna. See Antwerp 

Vindictire, H.M.S., 24 

Viola {Verelcer), 138, 164, 189-90, 233 

Vittoria, 7 

Vittoria. See Pargust 

W. S. Bailey, 239-40 

Wadsworth, 104 

Wardlaw, Mark, Lieiitenant, R.N., 14- 

Warrington, U.S.S., 165 
Wegener, Lieut. -Commander, 23 
Wellholme. See Werribee 
'Werribee (ThornJiill, Wellholme, Wonrja- 

we«a), 31, 35-6, 236-7 
Westmore, G. G., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

Westphalia. See Cullist 
Wexford Coast, 246 

Wharton, W. S., Skipper, R.N.R., 53-4 
TT liitefriars, 174 
Wiley side, 111 
Williams, J. W., Lieutenant, R.N.R,, 

139, 164 
Williams, Seaman W., R.N.R., 203 
Willow Branch. See Bombala 
Wilmot-Smith, A., Lieut. -Commander, 

R.N., 26, 29, 30 
Wolf, 226 

Wonganella. See Werribee 
Workman, L. E., Lieutenant, R.N.R., 

Wreford, 90 
Wyandra. See Baralong 

Ziegler, Sub-Lieutenant, 151-3 
Zinnia, H.M.S., 203 
Zylpha, 24, 47, 164-5 


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